What I should know about enrolling my foster child in school
The care team should work together to maintain school of origin if at all possible. Transportation assistance is available to children who need special transport to school of origin. Specialized transportation assistance could be bussing, taxi service, mileage reimbursement or gas cards.
A school age child in foster care must be enrolled within 5 school days of being placed in foster care (DHS Policy FOM 722-2)
A school district shall allow the child to enroll in and attend the appropriate grade in the school selected by the Department of Human Services or by a child placing agency without regard to whether or not the child is residing in that school district. (MCL 380.114)
Children in foster care are categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of foster parent income and should be prioritized for enrollment.
If the child takes medication during school hours you will need to get the school form for the doctor to fill out.
What I should know about resources available to foster children at school
All children in Foster Care qualify for FREE lunch (you will need to fill out paperwork from your school office)
Check to see if your school allows financial assistance to those that qualify for FREE lunch for “pay to play sports”.
Check with your local parks and recreation department to see if they offer scholarships to low income families or foster children. The Boys Scouts of America and Girl Scouts both have programs that help subsidize annual registration fees for their programs. Also, many Agencies, GALs and McKinney-Vento Coordinators will work to help access funds for participation.
Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative - MYOI's goal is to ensure that young people in foster care have successful outcomes in housing, education, employment, community engagement and health. Each site provides training and resources for youth in care.
Did you know you may home school your own children but your agency may require that you send foster children to a regular, either public or private, school program.(DHS Policy FOM 723)
The Prudent Parent Standard released in November 2015 clarified the rights of foster children to participate in extracurricular activities.
What I should know about Special Education and IEPs
Many foster children need extra educational support and foster parents are oftentimes called upon to become instant experts in developmental delays, mental health diagnoses and special education protocols. We know from our many years of collective experience that parents who advocate for their children in the educational setting create better outcomes for their children. There are many tools and supports available to you and we know that can be overwhelming. We've included links from our preferred resources below. This information is a good starting place for new families.
Foster families play an important role in the educational process but they may not have have full authority to authorize evaluations and IEPs. It's important to include birth families who have parental rights and agency workers in all special education decisions.
If a special education student transfers to a new district, charter school, or preschool Early Intervention Agency, the new school must provide the student with comparable services to those laid out in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) from the old school.