Supporting Students in Out-of-Home Care

Classroom Raising Hands

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became effective December 2016. ESSA emphasizes school stability and positive outcomes for students in out-of-home care (OHC). Collaboration between schools and child welfare agencies is at the heart of the act. Resources to assist with supporting students while in care are below.

Supporting Educational Stablility

ESSA requires child welfare agencies and school staff to talk about children they have in common. Specific conversations about school stability must occur when:

  • a child enters out-of-home care; or
  • when a change in placement could result in the child attending a new school.

A summary of ESSA-required policies and practices for Local Education Agencies and Child Welfare Agencies can be found in the Educational Stability for Students in Out-of-Home Care desk guide. 


Best Interest

ESSA states that the child must stay in their current school unless it is not in their best interest. The child welfare agency and school(s) are responsible for making the best interest determination. The Best Interest Determination Guidance and Worksheets are tools agencies and schools may use when making these determinations.



ESSA also requires schools and child welfare agencies to work together to transport students to and from school. The Transportation Procedures may assist with the creation of transportation plans or policies. The following materials may also be helpful:


Other Resources

  • Promoting School Success for Children in Foster Care - a desk guide

  • The Education Passport which gets generated by the child welfare agency to be shared with school staff.

  • The Education Passport Guidance recommends ways to use the passport when communicating with schools about children and youth you are serving.

  • Child Welfare and School Collaboration - School Input for Permanency Plan Hearings and Reviews section provides guidance and forms to be used by school representatives to assist in determining what information, if any, is relevant to present to a judge or administrative review panel regarding a permanency plan hearing or review for a student in out-of-home care

Points of Contact

ESSA required the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Public Instruction to name points of contact. Each Department has a point of contact, as do the schools and child welfare agencies.

The Department of Children and Families keeps a roster of all Education Points of Contact – people at county or tribal child welfare agencies who can be contacted about children who are placed in out-of-home care. Changes to county or tribal child welfare agency point of contact information should be emailed to

The Department of Public Instruction keeps a roster of all Foster Care Points of Contact – people at the school who can be contacted about educational services for students in out-of-home care.

Points of Contact & Agency Roles and Responsibilities provides publications regarding best practice considerations and the responsibilities of the points of contact.

Frequently Asked Questions