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Foster Care

“Foster Care” means substitute care for children placed by the Department of Human Services or a tribal child welfare agency away from their parents and for whom the department or agency has placement and care responsibility, including placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, child care institutions and pre-adoptive homes.

Children and youth in foster care represent one of the most vulnerable student subgroups in this country. Of the approximately 415,000 children in foster care in 2014, nearly 270,000 were in elementary and secondary schools. Studies find children in foster care are much more likely than their peers are to struggle academically and fall behind in school. Students in foster care at age 17 are also less likely to graduate from high school; with only 65 percent, graduating by age 21 compared to 86 percent among all youth ages 18 to 24.

Children in foster care experience much higher levels of residential and school instability than their peers; one study showed that 75 percent of children in foster care made an unscheduled school change in one school year, compared to less than 40 percent for children not in foster care. Unplanned school changes may be associated with delays in children’s academic progress, leaving highly mobile students potentially more likely to fall behind their less mobile peers academically. Children experiencing this type of instability, including many students in foster care, are thus more likely to face a variety of academic difficulties.

Educational stability is a key component in a foster care student’s success. At the federal and state level, laws have been passed that require local and state child welfare and education agencies to fully and faithfully understand and implement legislation focusing on continuity and stability in a foster care student’s education.

-ESSA: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care, ODHS and ODE, September 2020

You may qualify for certain rights and protection

Eligible students have the right to:

  • Receive a free, appropriate public education.
  • Enroll in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment.
  • Enroll in the local school; or continue attending their school of origin (the school they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last enrolled), if that is their preference and is feasible.
    • If the school district believes that the school selected is not in his/her best interest, then district must provide the student with a written explanation of its position and inform the student of his/her right to appeal its decision.
  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if requested.
  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students, according to the students' needs.

District Contact

McKinney-Vento Liaison
and Foster Care Point of Contact

S. Schmidt
541-246-7409 (text only)

Oregon Department of Education

Foster Care Information

Family Access Network

FAN advocates link children and families to critical basic need services with the goal of keeping children healthy and in school. Family Access Network Webpage