- Cama-i, quyana tailuci!
- (Central Yup’ik)
- "Greetings, thank you for coming!"
In order to support students in foster care, ESSA requires districts to do the following: Establish a Foster Care Point of Contact (POC) that Alaska’s Office of Children’s Services (OCS) can work with; allow students in foster care to remain in their “school of origin” (regardless of changes in housing) unless a determination is made that it is not in the student’s best interest; coordinate with OCS to provide transportation to the school of origin; and facilitate expedited enrollment in a new school when it is determined in the student’s best interest to change schools. [ESEA Sections 1111(g)(1)(E) and 1112(c)(5)]
DEED/OCS Joint Guidance and Templates
In order to assist districts in coordinating with OCS and complying with ESSA’s and Fostering Connection’s requirements, DEED and OCS have worked together to create joint guidance and templates.
Joint Guidance on Ensuring the Educational Stability of Children in Foster Care (pdf) –This joint guidance aims to establish statewide roles, definitions, and procedures for supporting students in foster care and ensure compliance with federal statutes.
Memorandum of Understanding to Ensure Educational Stability of Children in Foster Care (docx) –This template’s purpose is to create an MOU between the district and OCS that documents points of contact, affirms the Joint Guidance, and identifies a transportation agreement.
Foster Care Student Transportation Agreement (docx)–This template’s purpose is to arrange transportation and associated funding for an individual student in foster care on a case-by-case basis.
Connecting with OCS
Whereas DEED divides the state into 54 school districts led by Superintendents, OCS divides the state into 5 regions: Northern, Western, Southcentral, Anchorage, and Southeast. Each region is run by at least one regional Protective Services Manager (PSM).
Within most regions there are several sub-regional field offices that serve specific communities in the region.
If a district is trying to set up an MOU and/or transportation agreement with OCS, or if the district is trying determine who is the OCS Protective Services Specialist serving as its POC, the best route for the district is to email the regional PSM (docx).
In order to make timely, informed decisions regarding students in foster care, the school district and OCS must efficiently share and safeguard necessary information while respecting all relevant student privacy laws, including the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Guidance for Education Data Sharing for Alaska Children in Out-of-Home Care (pdf) –This joint guidance issued by DEED and OCS in August 2014 describes how data can be shared between school districts and OCS.
To facilitate the sharing of data of students in Foster Care, districts may opt to sign up for the online health information exchange operated by healtheConnect Alaska (opens new window).
Federal Statute and Guidance
There are several national advocacy organizations offering free resources and templates to help districts support students in Foster Care. Please note: These resources may describe best practices, not necessarily what is specifically required by ESSA or an allowable use of Title I-A funds. Additionally, other states may also share their state’s Foster Care resources, but be aware that these may be based on funding, laws, and protocols specific to that state and not applicable in Alaska.