California has become the first state in the nation to make school systems accountable for foster children’s educational outcomes.
An addendum to the state’s budget adds youth in foster services to a list of students whose educational progress must be evaluated under the No Child Left Behind Act, including students with disabilities and minority children.
The recently passed legislation also requires the state’s child welfare and education agencies inform school districts of students who are in state foster care. According to the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), there are approximately 42,000 children in California’s foster care system.
“The historic education reform package we passed will ensure that the educational achievement of students in foster care remain a priority,” state Senate Pro Tem Darrell Stenberg told the NCYL. “I am proud to champion an education reform plan that prioritizes students in foster care.”
Jesse Hahnel, director of the NCYL initiative FosterEd, said the state had a “collective responsibility” to ensure the academic success of California’s foster care youth.
“In holding itself accountable for the educational outcomes of foster children, California has become the first state to commit to closing this important, and largely hidden, achievement gap,” he said.
The budget is expected to be signed into law on June 30 by Gov. Jerry Brown.