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Best Practices and Model Programs: Child Welfare/Foster Care
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Child Welfare/Foster Care

NCHE Resources

pdf file icon A Look at Child Welfare from a Homeless Education Perspective (926K)
Although navigating the child welfare system can be daunting for those working in the field of homeless education, local liaisons and others must determine whether children in the child welfare system are eligible for McKinney-Vento services and collaborate with child welfare staff. This document provides an overview of the U.S. child welfare system, the challenges children in care face, and practices to ensure their educational best interest.
pdf file icon Clearing the Path to School Success for Students in Out-of-Home Care
The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and the National Center for Homeless Education present this brief, part of NCHE's Best Practices in Homeless Education series, to help educators and child welfare advocates clear the path to school success for children and youth who are forced to leave their homes due to abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. Two federal laws, among others, provide tools to clear the way: The McKinney-Vento Act and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. This guide provides basic information about both laws and suggests practical strategies for their implementation.
pdf file icon School Selection for Students in Out-of-Home Care
The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and the National Center for Homeless Education present this brief, part of NCHE's Best Practices in Homeless Education series, to provide a framework for local homeless education liaisons, educators, child welfare caseworkers, and other child welfare advocates for assessing best interest when selecting a school for students in out-of-home care. While the brief focuses on students “awaiting foster care placement” under the McKinney-Vento Act, it provides information relevant to school selection and school stability for all children and youth in out-of-home care.
Other Resources

external webpage icon Adoption and Foster Care Reporting and Analysis System (AFCARS)
Provided through the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AFCARS collects case level information on all children in foster care for whom state child welfare agencies have responsibility for placement, care or supervision, and on children who are adopted under the auspices of the State's public child welfare agency.
external webpage icon American Bar Association: Kinship Care Legal Research Center
Kinship care, commonly defined as the "full-time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives, members of their tribes or clans, or other adults who have a family relationship to a child," is a growing phenomenon across the United States. This online resource center will assist attorneys, judges, and other child-serving practitioners who are working with kinship families and having difficulty navigating the complex existing and emerging legal issues.
pdf file icon Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Children in Foster Care
The Blueprint for Change, from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, is an informative resource for people interested in ensuring that children in foster care have the best chance possible to succeed educationally. Blueprint's 8 goals for youth, and benchmarks for each goal indicating progress toward achieving education success, are a framework for direct case advocacy and system reform efforts. Following each goal are national, state, and local examples of policies, practices, programs, and resources that exist to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care.
pdf file icon Children at Risk in the Child Welfare System: Collaborations to Promote School Readiness
This report from the Catherine E. Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy examines current practice across systems in order to determine the degree to which the educational needs of children younger than five in the child welfare system are being addressed through collaborations between child welfare agencies, early intervention/preschool special education programs under IDEA, and quality early care and education programs. The report also identifies best practices and policy recommendations for how the multiple agencies which provide these services can coordinate their efforts better.
pdf file icon Identifying Special Education Decision Makers for Children in Foster Care: State Law Questions
This article from the The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education dissects federal special education law and identifies areas where states can determine how the federal law will be implemented in their state. This article can assist anyone who has struggled with understanding how various states have different processes and procedures for determining who is the special education decisionmaker for a child, wants to identify what areas of state law or policy may need to be clarified to more effectively implement the federal law, and wants to engage in discussions in states and jurisdictions about what would be the right policy and practice for their state.
external webpage icon Legal Center for Foster Care and Education: Fostering Connections Act Information
This website from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides factsheets and other tools to assist in understanding and implementing the Fostering Connections Act.
pdf file icon Mythbusting: Breaking Down Confidentiality and Decision-Making Barriers to Meet the Education Needs of Children in Foster Care
This publication from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law explains why there is a need to address the education needs of children in foster care; debunks myths about confidentiality and decision-making; explains the federal laws that affect confidentiality of education records and decision making; and suggests strategies to overcome confidentiality and decision-making hurdles when addressing the needs of children in foster care. Use this publication online and benefit from the interactive functions, including links between sections and to additional outside resources; or print a copy of the document to use offline.
pdf file icon Questions and Answers: What Child Welfare Professionals Need to Know about Awaiting Foster Care Placement and the McKinney-Vento Act
This fact sheet from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education clarifies how the McKinney-Vento Act applies to children in out-of-home care. It discusses the inclusion of the "awaiting foster care placement" phrase in the McKinney-Vento definition of homeless and explains how educators and child welfare professional can work together to serve these children best.
pdf file icon Seeking Shelter in Tough Times: Securing Housing for Youth who Age Out of Foster Care
More than half of the youth who age out of foster care are soon homeless or experience housing instability. This July 2008 issue of the American Bar Association's Child Law Practice explains the different types of federal programs and other resources that may offer housing or funding for housing to these young adults.
pdf file icon Serving Former Foster Youth in California Community Colleges
This report from the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges provides for a better understanding of the needs of emancipated foster youth enrolled at community colleges; examines successful responses to student needs from community colleges statewide; identifies challenges faced by community colleges in meeting student needs; and makes recommendations as to how programs can be enhanced, expanded, and improved. It summarizes key findings from a survey of Foster Youth Liaisons at community colleges statewide, a survey of community college students who are former foster youth, and interviews with staff at 12 colleges across the state, and presents a list of recommendations on how to strengthen efforts at both the state and local level to serve former foster youth attending community colleges.
external website icon Special Education Decisionmaking Factsheet Series
This factsheet series from the Legal Center on Foster Care and Education, designed for specific stakeholders, addresses the issues surrounding special education decisionmaking for children in out-of-home care. The series includes factsheets for caseworkers, children's attorneys, educators, foster parents, judges and youth.
external webpage icon State Child Welfare Policy Database
This website from Casey Family Programs provides state-by-state policy information on a range of child welfare topics. Access up-to-date information on individual state policies and compare your own state's policies to those of other states.
external webpage icon Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care (A framework for program enhancement)
Few students from foster care ever gain access to higher education programs, let alone graduate from college. Colleges and universities can help youth succeed. Colleges, policymakers, and advocates have begun to address this issue with calls for policy advances, practice innovations, and influential advocacy. This Casey Family Programs publication provides program development tools for college counselors, administrators, professors, and staff. It helps education professionals define a plan for improving their institution’s support for students from foster care.
external webpage icon State Foster Care Fact Sheets
These fact sheets from the National Resource Center for Youth Development provide information about foster care services by state. Information is provided on transitional living programs, state foster care coordinators, services for 18- to 21-year-olds, educational assistance, and more.
pdf file icon The McKinney-Vento Act and Children and Youth Awaiting Foster Care Placement
This 2008 report from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), also made possible with support from Casey Family Programs, describes how eight jurisdictions are defining awaiting foster care placement and how they are implementing the McKinney-Vento Act for youth in out-of-home care. It offers concrete strategies for building and maintaining effective collaborations between child welfare and education agencies and supporting the educational success of youth in care.



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The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is associated with The SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This website was produced with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, on contract no. ED-01-CO-0092/0001.
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