School Enrollment Delays

Yesterday, Foster Families of Utah met with the Utah Coordinating Council for Youth in Care, a committee that oversees education for children in foster care and juvenile justice.  Foster Families has grown increasingly concerned about complaints from foster parents that children are experiencing delays when trying to enroll in school. Of particular concern was the practice of school districts to hold an intake or screening meetings with students. Below, you can read the text of the letter that was sent to the state committee from Foster Families of Utah.

Utah Coordinating Council for Youth in Care

Ms. Chamberlain,

As a new school year begins and children in foster care endeavor to enroll in school, foster families are increasingly concerned about school districts’ policies and practices around intake screening and meetings.

We understand each school’s desire to meet the needs of their whole student population. An intake meeting or screening can provide school administration with critical information about safe school violations, risk to other students, and needs of the student. We understand the caseworkers gather information for an intake form and then districts may or may not have an intake meeting with or about the student. We appreciate the services provided to students in foster care through Youth in Custody funding.

Our concern is about the impact of intake meetings on students. DCFS, foster parent training, and therapeutic services have all moved to a trauma-informed focus. In light of that, and given the risk of triggering trauma for students, we would like to ask the council to reconsider when and where an intake meeting or screening may be necessary.

We would like to propose the council and school districts follow a new policy that would waive the intake meeting for students who are in level I, II, and III foster care placements and instead rely on the intake form to identify any risk-issues.

Adoption of this policy would decrease the risk of triggering trauma for students, streamline the registration process, simplify procedures for school districts, and still keep all students safe. As always, foster parents welcome the opportunity to work with educators to help children in foster care succeed in school.

We would welcome an examination of other ways school districts could keep all students safe and decrease barriers for students in foster care and we would love to be part of those conversations.

Thank you for all of the work you do and services you provide to help our students succeed.

Respectfully,

Lisa Cummings, Vice-President, Foster Families of Utah

As a result of the meeting, the Coordinating Council is committed to looking at the process of school intake meetings, as well as other reasons a student might experience enrollment delays (caseworkers not turning in paperwork in a timely manner, etc.). They intend to do a statewide assessment of the meetings and recommend policy changes accordingly.

We will keep you posted as we hear more.

Advocacy is a process but we can make a real difference!

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