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Mary, a student in foster care, was diagnosed with dyslexia and needed appropriate educational services.

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Policy & Initiatives

Policy Agenda: Students in Temporary Housing or Foster Care

Policy Agenda: Students in Temporary Housing or Foster Care

During the 2012-2013 school year, nearly 80,000 NYC students experienced homelessness and more than 13,000 children spent time in foster care. Students in temporary housing and students in foster care often face frequent school transfers, which are linked to increased absenteeism and suspensions, higher grade retention, higher drop-out rates, and disruption of social and emotional supports.

We advocate for increased school stability for students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care so they can remain in their school even if their living situation changes.

►  Place Students Near their Schools:

The City should set aggressive targets for increasing the number of children placed in shelters or foster care placements located in the same community school district as the children’s schools and publicly report these outcomes on a regular basis. As a first step, the City must ensure that the proper school information is being entered into the computer system at PATH for all children when families enter the shelter system and in the Connections computer system when children enter foster care. In addition, for families not initially placed in shelters close to their children’s schools, education-based shelter transfers must be made available for families who wish to transfer shelters so their children can remain in their original schools.

 Improve Transportation:

For most children in temporary housing or foster care, transportation is critical to keeping them at their original schools. The DOE should work with DHS and ACS to develop and implement written protocols for responding to yellow bus requests for students in temporary housing and students in foster care. Such protocols should ensure that these requests are processed within five days in a consistent, transparent manner, and that hardship cases are prioritized for yellow bus service so that students can maintain school stability consistent with the federal McKinney-Vento Act and Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. As a first step, the DOE should implement a web-based busing request platform for students in temporary housing or foster care, an improvement that has been under consideration for over a year.

►  Increase Access to Early Childhood Education:

The City should set targets and report outcomes for increasing the number of children in family shelters and with child welfare involvement enrolled in early childhood programs such as EarlyLearn or UPK. The City should conduct outreach at family shelters, encourage inter-agency collaboration, and prioritize enrolling these children in preschool programs.

►  Fund Education Specialists at Foster Care Agencies:

Education specialists are needed at each foster care agency to ensure that children in foster care have their educational needs met. ACS should provide training for all education specialists, an initiative ACS has been exploring for several years. ACS should also incorporate information about education into the core trainings it offers all agency case planners.

►  Improve Inter-agency Collaboration with Oversight by the Mayor’s Office:

To implement these priorities, city agencies (e.g., DOE, DHS, ACS, HRA) must collaborate, revise policies, and prioritize educational success in the culture of their agencies. A Deputy Mayor-level official should oversee such inter-agency collaborative efforts.

Learn more about AFC's work with students in temporary housing and students involved in the child welfare system.