State law requires each school district to designate a foster care liaison to facilitate district compliance with state and federal laws related to students in out-of-home care.
District foster care liaisons must collaborate with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to address educational barriers for these students. The liaisons have certain responsibilities including coordinating with different entities, attending and providing training, and facilitating certain processes and procedures.
"Out-of-home care" means placement in a licensed foster family home or group care facility or placement in a home, other than that of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, not required to be licensed.
"Dependent child" means any child who:
State law requires each K-12 public school to establish a building of contact in each elementary, middle, and high school to identify homeless and unaccompanied homeless youth and connecting them with the school district's homeless education liaison.
Each K-12 public school must establish a contact in each elementary, middle, and high school building for students in foster care. These contacts must be appointed by the principal, in consultation with the district foster care liaison, and are responsible for coordinating services and resources for students in foster care.
The district foster care liaison is responsible for training contacts.
OSPI must make available best practices for choosing and training contacts.
References to students in out-of-home care are changed to students who are dependent.
PRO: Students in foster care are some of the most at risk students including higher risk of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, early parenthood, and substance abuse. COVID-19 has deepened these inequities. Caring points of contact in school buildings can help students in foster care not fall victim to these risks because they can help meet students' needs such as transportation and supplies. This support can help students in foster care succeed in school and life and will help make sure they do not fall through the cracks. School district foster care liaisons often work out of a district office and have a number of responsibilities including partnering with community organizations. This bill would require points of contact at each school and require these contacts to have training that will help them meet students' needs. The bill does not require hiring additional staff, and school counselors can fill this role.