Who Can Enroll a Foster Student?
A student may be enrolled by either a representative from Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) or Child Protective Services (CPS); or an individual from the student’s foster placement, such as a foster parent or representative of the shelter.
Forms and Court Documents Needed to Enroll the Student
- Proof of legal authority to enroll student;
- Either DFPS Form 2085 (in any form); or a court order naming a DFPS Temporary Managing Conservator or a Permanent Managing Conservator;
- These forms are protected under FERPA and must be stored securely.
- One copy of Form 2085 should be placed in the student’s cumulative folder and the campus PEIMS clerk should retain a second copy.
- Student must be coded with an at-risk indicator in PEIMS.
- Also, E.C. 7.029 (b-1) requires districts to report a foster care indicator through PEIMS.
- Certified copy of student’s birth certificate or other proof of identity (allow 90 days for children not born in the United States);
- Student’s immunization records (student may be enrolled provisionally, even if he or she has not had the necessary immunizations); and
- Student’s records from school most recently attended.
- If the student is under 11, the name of each previous school attended by student and the records from those schools must be provided.
- Students may either continue attending their current school or school in that feeder pattern, or enroll in the school in the attendance zone of their placement. If the student is to be enrolled based on location of his/her placement, standard proof of residency is required (lease, utility bill, or other document allowed by campus).
NOTE: If a student is involved with CPS, but not in conservatorship or substitute care, or is awaiting foster placement, the McKinney Vento Act applies.
- The student should be enrolled immediately, any time of day, even if the student does not have all of the necessary paperwork. While it is requested that foster parents, placement agencies, and other residential facilities call ahead for enrollment, this is not
- If required forms and records are not received 30 days after student is enrolled, district shall notify the police department and request a determination of whether the child has been reported missing.
Obtaining Records from Student’s Prior School
- Student records must be transferred no later than 10 working days after the student enrolls in another school.
- If necessary, contact the foster care liaison in the district the student attended for assistance. See the TEA website for list of liaisons.
Documents and IDs Required to Access Student and Student’s Records
- The student’s attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem (including CASA representatives) may contact the school regarding the student’s educational status and needs. These individuals must have a court order or notification letter of assignment. The attorney ad litem is entitled to records related to the student, including school records, without a further order or release.
- A student’s caseworker may access any educational records a parent could access for a student in DFPS conservatorship. To obtain the files, the caseworker only needs to provide the school with a badge showing employment with CPS.
- When in doubt, ask to see either the court order or DFPS Form 2085 or contact the student’s caseworker.
- The Uninterrupted Scholars Act permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose education records of students in foster care to state and county social service agencies or child welfare agencies.
Meeting the Student’s Needs
- Students in foster care are presented with unique challenges including: separation from family, instability, incomplete or missing records, missed class time, special needs that have not been met, behavioral challenges, and safety concerns. It is important that the student feels welcomed and supported at the campus.
- Maintain confidentiality as it is important the student not be labeled as a foster care child and that any related matters be discussed in private. Federal and state laws and policies require that a student’s status of being in DFPS conservatorship be kept confidential, except on a need-to-know basis.
- Inform the student of safe places to go if the student needs emotional support such as, the counselor’s office, Principal’s office, Assistant Principal’s office, or Communities in Schools’ office.
Resources Available to Foster Students
- Free lunch- Foster students are categorically eligible for free meals in the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. All that is required is DFPS form 2085, which must be provided to the school’s food service department.
- Free Pre-K- Foster children are eligible for free Pre-K, if the child is at least three years of age and is currently in, or ever has been in, Texas foster care as a result of an adversarial hearing.
- Children ages 3, 4, and 5 in the conservatorship of DFPS must be enrolled in:
- A pre-kindergarten program offered through the public school; or
- An early childhood education program offered through Head Start, if available. If a program is not available in the local community, caregiver must notify caseworker.
- A caregiver who wishes to enroll the child in a private early childhood education program or a pre-kindergarten program must secure approval for exception to enrollment through the child’s caseworker, supervisor, and program director.
- College and Dual Credit Tuition and Fees Waiver- The Texas tuition and fee waiver provides tuition exemptions at state-supported institutions of higher education to youth who enroll as an undergraduate or in a dual credit high school course if:
- The student was under the conservatorship of DFPS either:
- on the day before the student’s 18th birthday;
- on or after the student’s 14th birthday, if the student was also eligible for adoption on or after that day;
- on the day the student graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
- on the day before the date the student is adopted or permanent managing conservatorship is awarded to a person other than the student’s parent, if that date is on or after September 1, 2009; OR
- during an academic term in which the student was enrolled in a dual credit course or other course for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit
- AND the student enrolls before the age of 25.
- The student was under the conservatorship of DFPS either:
- Additional College or Vocational Training Funding - The Texas Education Training Voucher (ETV) provides additional money to former foster youth who enroll in a college or training program. Students can be eligible to receive up to $5,000 a year to help with housing, food, books, computer equipment, tuition and other expenses. This is in addition to the Texas tuition waiver program. To receive funds students generally must be:
- 16 or 17 and in DFPS foster care and likely to stay in care until student is 18;
- Not yet 21, but aged out of DFPS foster care; OR
- Not yet 21, and were adopted from DFPS foster care after turning 16.