By Tracey Beecken
Foster youth often have trouble concentrating in school and maintaining good grades because of the uncertainties surrounding their personal lives. One of the many worries is whether they will have reliable transportation to and from school. This concern comes from the disruption of stability once entering the foster care system. Youth facing this challenge need former foster youth, youth in foster care, and alumni organizations to be in the driver’s seat advocating for change!
New provisions under Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the Fostering Connections Act have attempted to address these uncertainties by requiring state and local agencies to allow youth in foster care to remain in the same school if it is in their best interest, and to ease the transition of youth from one school to another, when it is necessary, by making exceptions to enrollment procedures and speeding up transfer of records from the original school. In addition, transportation to the new school must be provided in a cost effective manner.
Unfortunately, even with the new provisions, costs associated with transportation continue to be a problem because agencies have not agreed how to share transportation costs at the local level.
Child welfare agencies as well as state and local educational agencies must find a way to share the costs of providing transportation for youth in foster care who are relocated from one school district to another. In order to achieve this goal, advocates are needed.
Here are some ways to get the wheels turning:
- Providers- familiarize yourself with provisions of ESSA and South Carolina’s implementation plan
- Educate and engage youth in the decision-making process.
- Advocate to make transportation for youth in foster care a priority among policy makers, state and local child welfare and education agencies.
Continue to engage even if you are discouraged by the initial response. Change takes time and persistence, and your efforts count. It may be a long ride, but YOU are at the wheel!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead