Frequently Asked Questions

Send questions to lustig_michelle@lacoe.edu

Download the CDE Foster Youth Definitions document and see additional information on the definitions tab of the CDE webpage.

Last updated March 2020

School Enrollment

Q1. Do students in foster care need to be immediately enrolled even if we have no records from their prior school?

A: Yes, a student in foster care who is not remaining in their school of origin must be immediately enrolled in their new school regardless of documentation regularly required for other students and families at enrollment.

Please refer to California Education Code (EC) § 48853.5(f)(8)(B):

The new school shall immediately enroll the foster child even if the foster child has outstanding fees, fines, textbooks, or other items or moneys due to the school last attended or is unable to produce clothing or records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, including, but not limited to, records or other proof of immunization history pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with §120325) of Part 2 of Division 105 of the Health and Safety Code, proof of residency, other documentation, or school uniforms.


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Q2. Are students in foster care required to have the TDAP and other immunizations in order to be immediately enrolled?

A. Pursuant to EC § 48853.5(f)(8)(B), cited above, schools must immediately enroll foster children transferring to their school even if a foster child is unable to produce immunization records normally required for school entry. Once a foster child is enrolled, school staff should work with the school or foster family where the student was transferred from to obtain the student’s immunization records quickly. The school staff person should also work with local health departments to ensure these students receive any vaccinations they may need.

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/cefimmunization.asp


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Q3. Is it necessary for students in foster care to have proof of immunization in order to be enrolled in school?

A. California law requires schools to immediately enroll foster children transferring to their school even if a foster child is unable to produce immunization records normally required for school entry. Once a foster child is enrolled, school staff should work with the school or foster family where the student was transferred from to obtain the student’s immunization records quickly. The school staff person should also work with local health departments to ensure these students receive any vaccinations they may need.

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/cefimmunization.asp

Please refer to Health and Safety Code § 120341:

(a) The governing authority shall admit a foster child, as defined in subdivision (a) of § 48853.5 of the Education Code, whose immunization records are not available or are missing.

(b) This section shall not alter the obligation of the governing authority to obtain a foster child’s immunization records pursuant to § 48853.5 of the Education Code or to ensure the immunization of a foster child pursuant to this chapter.

(Added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 463, § 3. (AB 709) Effective January 1, 2012.)


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Q4. Is there a time limit for when proof of immunization must be presented to the school to prevent a student in foster care from being excluded?

A. California law requires schools to immediately enroll foster children transferring to their school even if a foster child is unable to produce immunization records normally required for school entry. Once a foster child is enrolled, school staff should work with the school or foster family where the student was transferred from to obtain the student’s immunization records quickly. The school staff person should also work with local health departments to ensure these students receive any vaccinations they may need. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/cefimmunization.asp

The law does not reference a specific time frame for obtaining proof of immunization.


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Q5. How much time is an LEA required to allow a student in foster care to become fully immunized?

A. California law requires schools to immediately enroll foster children transferring to their school even if a foster child is unable to produce immunization records normally required for school entry. Once a foster child is enrolled, school staff should work with the school or foster family where the student was transferred from to obtain the student’s immunization records quickly. The school staff person should also work with local health departments to ensure these students receive any vaccinations they may need.

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/cefimmunization.asp

The law does not reference a specific time frame for obtaining proof of immunization.


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School of Origin (SSO)

Q6. How is the SOO determined for implementing AB 490 rights Is the school of origin the school, the district or the special education program?


A. The school of origin is defined in EC § 48853.5(g) as:

the school in which the foster child was last enrolled or the school the child attended when permanently housed. If the school the foster child attended when permanently housed is different from the school in which the foster child was last enrolled, or if there is some other school the foster child attended with which the child was connected and attended within the immediately preceding 15 months, the educational liaison, in consultation with and with the agreement of the child and the person holding the educational rights for the child, shall determine, in the best interests of the foster child, the school that shall be deemed to be the SOO. In addition, the EC provides that the SOO is not limited to the actual “school’ from which the child last came from. Please refer to the § 48853.5(f)(4) which provides:

To ensure that the foster child has the benefit of matriculating with his or her peers in accordance with the established feeder patterns of school districts, if the foster child is transitioning between school grade levels, the local educational agency shall allow the foster child to continue in the school district of origin in the same attendance area, or, if the foster child is transitioning to a middle school or high school, and the school designated for matriculation is in another school district, to the school designated for matriculation in that school district.


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Q7. How long is a student in foster care entitled to school of origin rights?

A. A student in foster care retains their rights to attend their school of origin as long as they are in foster care, until the end of the school year when their foster care case closes mid-year, or, in the case of high school, until graduation from high school.

Please refer to EC § 48853.5(f)(1 – 4):

(f) (1) At the initial detention or placement, or any subsequent change in placement of a foster child, the local educational agency serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the jurisdiction of the court.

(2) If the jurisdiction of the court is terminated before the end of an academic year, the local educational agency shall allow a former foster child who is in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 8, inclusive, to continue his or her education in the school of origin through the duration of the academic school year.

(3) (A) If the jurisdiction of the court is terminated while a foster child is in high school, the local educational agency shall allow the former foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin through graduation.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, a school district is not required to provide transportation to a former foster child who has an individualized education program that does not require transportation as a related service and who changes residence but remains in his or her school of origin pursuant to this 6

paragraph, unless the individualized education program team determines that transportation is a necessary related service.

(4) To ensure that the foster child has the benefit of matriculating with his or her peers in accordance with the established feeder patterns of school districts, if the foster child is transitioning between school grade levels, the local educational agency shall allow the foster child to continue in the school district of origin in the same attendance area, or, if the foster child is transitioning to a middle school or high school, and the school designated for matriculation is in another school district, to the school designated for matriculation in that school district.


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Q8. When the SOO for a student in foster care is a charter school, must the student be given priority on a waiting list for enrollment?

A. While there is no legislative mandate that a student in foster care be given priority on a Charter School waiting list per se, a student in foster care does have the right to attend their school of origin when determined to be in their best interest to do so. As such, a Charter School must ensure the student is granted this entitlement if the charter school is determined to be the SOO after a best interest determination.


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Q9. Which address does the LEA use to determine the school of residence?

A. While the general rule is that school of residence of a student is determined by where a parent or guardian lives, for students in foster care residency can be determined by the address where they live, in cases where they are placed in a licensed children’s institution or foster home pursuant to EC § 56155.5, placed by a court in a foster home or reside with a caregiver. In addition, remaining in their school of origin establishes automatic residency.

Please refer to: EC § 48204(a)(2) which states:

(a) (2) A pupil who is a foster child who remains in his or her school of origin pursuant to subdivisions (f) and (g) of § 48853.5.


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Charter Schools

Q10. Are charter schools required to comply with AB 490?

A. Yes, pursuant to EC § 48859(c), the definition of Local Educational Agency for purposes of “AB 490” rights include charter schools.

48859. For purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:

(c) “Local educational agency” means a school district, a county office of education, a charter school, or a special education local plan area.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 289, § 2. (SB 445) Effective January 1, 2016.)


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Q11. Are charter schools obligated to provide transportation to school of origin?

A. Yes, as set forth above, charter schools are considered an LEA under EC § 48859(c) and thus are obligated to provide transportation, if appropriate, to the SOO pursuant to EC § 48853.5(f)(5).

48853.5 (f)(5)(A) Paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) do not require a school district to provide transportation services to allow a foster child to attend a school or school district, unless there is an agreement with a local child welfare agency that the school district assumes part or all of the transportation costs in accordance with § 6312(c)(5) of Title 20 of the United States Code, or unless otherwise required under federal law. This paragraph does not prohibit a school district from, at its discretion, providing transportation services to allow a foster child to attend a school or school district.

(B) In accordance with § 6312(c)(5) of Title 20 of the United States Code, local educational agencies shall collaborate with local child welfare agencies to develop and implement clear written procedures to address the transportation needs of foster youth to maintain them in their school of origin, when it is in the best interest of the foster youth.


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Education Rights Holder (ERH)

Q12. If the LEA cannot identify or contact the biological parent of the foster youth who would hold the student’s educational rights, can the LEA appoint someone else to be the educational rights holder?

A. The answer to this question requires us to first understand that in California the only authority for limiting a parent’s educational rights and assigning those rights to another individual is through an order of the Juvenile Court judge. There are limited exceptions, however, when a person can hold educational rights on behalf of a foster student without possessing a court order assigning such rights. Those would be in instances when a court has limited the rights of a foster child’s parent or guardian to make educational decisions on behalf of the foster child. In such a case, the foster parent or caregiver may exercise educational rights on behalf of the foster child pursuant to EC § 56055. In addition, for foster student is eligible for special education and related services, an LEA may have a surrogate parent assigned to be a member of the foster student’s IEP team or to otherwise make educational decisions for the foster student according to the requirements of California Government Code § 7579.5.

The Juvenile Court is required to provide the LEA of attendance a JV-535 each time a child’s education rights holder changes. Furthermore, if the court cannot identify an education rights holder and needs the LEA to assign a parent surrogate a JV535 will be sent with an attached JV 536 requesting the LEA respond to the court with the assigned education surrogate.

Please see the following Rules of Court from the California Judicial Council

Rule 5.650. Appointed educational rights holder

(a) Order and appointment (§§ 319, 361, 366, 366.27, 366.3, 726, 727.2; Gov. Code, §§ 7579.5-7579.6; 20 U.S.C. § 1415; 34 C.F.R. § 300.519)

Whenever it limits, even temporarily, the rights of a parent or guardian to make educational or developmental-services decisions for a child, the court must use form JV-535 to appoint a responsible adult as educational rights holder or to document that one of the following circumstances exists:

(1) The child is a dependent child or ward of the court and has a court-ordered permanent plan of placement in a planned permanent living arrangement. The caregiver may, without a court order, exercise educational decision making rights under Education Code § 56055 and developmental-services decision making rights under § 361 or 726, and is not prohibited from exercising those rights by § 361, 726, or 4701.6(b), or by 34 Code of Federal Regulations § 300.519 or 303.422; or

(2) The court cannot identify a responsible adult to serve as the child's educational rights holder under § 319, 361, or 726 or under Education Code § 56055; and

(A) The child is a dependent child or ward of the court and is or may be eligible for special education and related services or already has a valid individualized education program, and the court:

(i) Refers the child to the local educational agency for the appointment of a surrogate parent under § 361 or 726, Government Code § 7579.5, and title 20 United States Code § 1415; and

(ii) Will, with the input of any interested person, make developmental-services decisions for the child; or

(B) The appointment of a surrogate parent is not warranted, and the court will, with the input of any interested person, make educational and developmental-services decisions for the child.

(C) If the court must temporarily make educational or developmental-services decisions for a child before disposition, it must order that every effort be made to identify a responsible adult to make future educational or developmental-services decisions for the child.


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Q13. Can an LEA appoint an educational representative designee when the parent retains educational rights and can sign an IEP?

A. No. As set forth in Q.12, the only authority for limiting a parent’s educational rights and assigning those rights to another individual is the Juvenile Court judge and the only instance when an LEA can appoint a surrogate parent is if the foster student’s parents have had their educational rights limited and the student has been identified for special educational and related services. If the foster student has a parent who retains educational rights, the LEA would not be permitted to appoint a surrogate parent or other designee to represent the educational rights of the child.


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Q14. Can an LEA release any educational records to the social worker or probation officer of a student in foster care without a signed release from the ERH? Does this include IEPs?

A. On January 14, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), Public Law 112-278, which amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. These amendments permit educational agencies and institutions to disclose personally identifiable information (PII) from the education records of students in foster care placement, without parental consent, to an agency caseworker or other representative of a State or local child welfare agency (CWA) or tribal organization authorized to access a student’s case plan “when such agency or organization is legally responsible, in accordance with State or tribal law, for the care and protection of the student.” See 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1)(L). The USA also amended FERPA to allow educational agencies and institutions to disclose a student’s education records pursuant to a judicial order issued in specified types of judicial proceedings in which the parent is already a party, without requiring additional notice to the parent by the educational agency or institution. In response, EC § 49076 was amended to reflect this federal change. Please see the link below.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EDC&sectionNum=49076


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Q15. Can the foster parent be the education rights holder (ERH)?

A. Yes. Pursuant to California Rule of Court § 5.650(c), individuals who are paid to care for the welfare of a child may not be awarded educational rights of that child as it is considered to be a conflict of interest (e.g. group home staff, child welfare staff, probation department staff, or the child’s attorney). However, foster parents are deemed not have such a conflict of interest. This is because foster parents are not considered to be “paid” for caring for the child but receive reimbursement for room, board and other needs of the child

W & I § 319

(j) (1) At the initial hearing upon the petition filed in accordance with subdivision (c) of Rule 5.520 of the California Rules of Court or anytime thereafter up until the time that the minor is adjudged a dependent child of the court or a finding is made dismissing the petition, the court may temporarily limit the right of the parent or guardian to make educational or developmental services decisions for the child and temporarily appoint a responsible adult to make educational or developmental services decisions for the child if all of the following conditions are found:

(2) If the court limits the parent’s educational rights under this subdivision, the court shall determine whether there is a responsible adult who is a relative, nonrelative extended family member, or other adult known to the child and who is available and willing to serve as the child’s educational representative before appointing an educational representative or surrogate who is not known to the child.

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Q16. Can the foster parent have access to the educational records of a student in foster care if they do not hold educational rights?

A. Yes. A foster parent can have access to records necessary for them to support the education of children in their care regardless of whether or not they hold educational rights.

Please refer to the following California Education Code:

§ 49069.3.

(a) A foster family agency with jurisdiction over a currently enrolled or former pupil, a short-term residential treatment program staff responsible for the education or case management of a pupil, and a caregiver who has direct responsibility for the care of the pupil, including a certified or licensed foster parent, an approved relative or nonrelated extended family member, or a resource family, as defined in § 1517 of the Health and Safety Code and § 16519.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, may access the current or most recent records of grades, transcripts, attendance, discipline, and online communication on platforms established by schools for pupils and parents, and any individualized education programs (IEP) that may have been developed pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with § 56300) of Part 30 or any plan adopted pursuant to § 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794(a)) maintained by school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, nonpublic schools, as defined in § 60010, or private schools of that pupil. A caregiver, pursuant to this §, may access the information specified in this § regardless of whether the caregiver has been appointed as the pupil’s educational rights holder pursuant to § 319, 361, or 726 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(b) A foster family agency, short-term residential treatment program, or caregiver may review and receive pupil records pursuant to subdivision (a) for purposes of monitoring the pupil’s educational progress, updating and maintaining the pupil’s education records as required by § 16010 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and ensuring the pupil has access to educational services, supports, and activities. These purposes include, but are not limited to, enrolling the pupil in school, assisting the pupil with homework, class assignments, and college and scholarship applications, and enrolling the pupil in extracurricular activities, tutoring, and other afterschool and summer enrichment programs.


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Q17. What records can an LEA release to the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) who does not hold educational rights?

A. Generally, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are entitled to receive and review all educational records related to their case child because most CASAs have in place a court order which allows access to records concerning their case child, including educational records. An LEA should ask to review this court order when any person claiming to be a child’s CASA seeks access to a child’s educational records.


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Graduation Requirements

Q. 18. Could an LEA allow a student in foster care to utilize the exemption under AB 167/216 so the student can graduate prior to the end of their senior year of high school?

A. The code sections that grant the entitlements under AB 167/216 do not address this question of whether the LEA could use the exemptions to allow the student to graduate early. In making a decision as to whether to apply the exemptions, an LEA will want to take other reasonable considerations into account that may impact the answer to this question. The reasonableness determination can include the age of the student and whether the student could be reasonably able to complete the LEA’s local requirements in time to graduate high school by the end of their fourth year. See EC § 51251.1 for information on Assembly bill 167 and 216 requirements. Please see the link below:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EDC&sectionNum=51225.1


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