ESSA requires every state educational agency to collaborate with the state child welfare agency to ensure the educational stability of students in foster care, including assurances that they remain in their school of origin when determined to be in their best interest.
ESSA also provides a path for allocating responsibility for providing transportation for students in foster care to remain in their school of origin. ESSA requires LEAs receiving Title I, Part A funds to collaborate with child welfare agencies to develop written procedures governing how transportation to maintain children in their school of origin will be provided, arranged, and funded. Those procedures must ensure that:
Students in foster care needing transportation will receive it promptly, in a cost-effective manner, and in accordance with the state ability to use Title IV-E (foster care) funds.
If there are no additional costs incurred in providing school of origin transportation for students in foster care, the LEA should provide the transportation.
If there are additional costs incurred, the LEA must provide transportation only if:
the local child welfare agency agrees to reimburse the costs;
the LEA agrees to pay the costs; or
the LEA and child welfare agency agree to share the cost
Also see School Stability, Best Interest Determination (BID) and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) pages.
School Stability in LEA Transportation Budgets (December 2022)A resource from the CA Foster Youth Education Task Force School Stability Subcommittee
School of Origin Transportation for Youth in Foster Care (November 2021)Strategies and tips from the CA Foster Youth Education Task Force
Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care: Transportation ProceduresU.S. Department of Education & Department of Health and Human Services 2016
Sample Transportation Protocols
ACL 11-51 (September 23, 2011)The Fostering Connections To Success And Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) Education Travel Reimbursement
The CDE ESSA FAQ page outlines the following requirements for LEAs:
Develop and implement clear written procedures governing how transportation to maintain students in foster care in their school of origin when in their best interest will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of their time in foster care, and ensure that students promptly receive that transportation.
In California, foster youth have the right to continue to attend their school of origin through the end of the school year for youth in grades one through eight, and have the right to complete high school for students already in high school when their case closes. EC Section 48853.
Designate a “Point of Contact” (POC) if the corresponding child welfare agency notifies the LEA in writing that it has designated an employee to serve as a POC for the LEA.
Please note that ESSA transportation requirements apply even if an LEA does not otherwise provide transportation to students who are not in foster care; also note that the ESSA educational stability provisions apply to preschool age children in foster care, in addition to older students. If an LEA offers a public preschool education, the requirements must be met for pre-school age foster youth as well. Elementary and Secondary Education Act Section 1111(g)(1)(E).
See the December 2016 joint Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services.Approved November 2022
What are the methods/services LEAs are using to transport students in foster care?
LEAs and their child welfare partners are utilizing a variety of methods to ensure transportation to school of origin is being provided. These include but are not limited to:
Contracting with transportation companies
Placing agencies reimbursing LEAs that use buses for their excess costs
Carpools being set up through the school/PTA
Adding stops to existing bus routes
Creating new bus routes
Approved November 2022
What are counties doing when schools don’t want to pay for transportation?
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that all LEAs have a plan in place that outlines how they will provide transportation to schools of origin for students in foster care. If an LEA does not or refuses to do so, a Uniform Complaint may be filed with the LEA. This will initiate a resolution process. Any individual can file a complaint on behalf of a student who is being denied an entitlement.
Approved November 2022
How long is transportation required to continue while the case is still open?
Transportation to school of origin remains an entitlement for as long as the student requires it and the case is open and the child is in out-of-home placement.
Approved November 2022
Are charter schools obligated to provide transportation to school of origin?
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.
Approved March 2020