Foster Care Plan
Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) will work in collaboration with parents, guardians, concerned adults, students and the local Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Office to ensure equitable access to a child in foster care’s school of origin as defined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Children in foster care will always be allowed to enroll in their school of origin of residence as required by both federal and state law. Each placement of a child in foster care takes into account the appropriateness of current educational programming.
Foster Care Child Liaison (POC)
BAPS will assign at least one person as the Foster Care Child Liaison or Point of Contact (POC). The Foster Care Child Liaison will work in the best interest of the child to ensure that all educational requirements are being met. The Foster Care Child Liaison for BAPS is:
- Diana Bjornson
Identification of Foster Students
Within one day of placing a child in foster care, the Oklahoma Child Welfare Agency (OCWA) or other foster care agency (such as a tribal agency) will notify the POC for BAPS to begin the process of determining the best interest of the child for school attendance. As soon as BAPS is notified by the foster care agency that a student who is currently enrolled in BAPS has been placed in a foster home, BAPS and the foster care agency will work to determine if it is in the best interest of the child to remain in the school of origin or to transfer to the local zoned school in which the foster parents reside.
Determination of Best Interest of the Child for School Placement
During the process of determining the best interest of the child, the child will remain in the school of origin until the process is complete. For the continuity of the child’s education, the presumption should be for the child to remain in the school of origin for the remainder of the current school year. However, there are instances where it may be in the best interest of the child to transfer to the school district in which the foster parent resides. BAPS shall utilize the Best Interest Determination Form in making a “best interest” determination for each child in foster care.
During this process, the preferences of the child and the foster family will be considered. After consulting with the child, the foster parents, and the other key partners about the above mentioned items, the final decision about which school the child will attend will be determined by the OCWA or other foster care agency. If there is a still a disagreement, a request may be made for an appeal through a dispute resolution process
If any of the parties are not in agreement with the decision about which school the child will attend, that party has the right to appeal to the appropriate state agency for a resolution. Disagreements are to be resolved quickly with the child staying in the school of origin until the final decision is made.
Transportation for children in foster care will be provided by the foster family, DHS, or BAPS utilizing the most cost effective means to do so (475(4)(A) of the Social Security Act).
If the child’s school of origin is a BAPS school and the child is placed in a foster home outside of BAPS boundaries, the district POC will work with DHS and/or the foster family to determine if the school of origin remains the school of best interest for the child. This determination will primarily consider the following:
- The wishes of the child
- The wishes of the foster family (according to state law)
- The wishes of DHS
- The distance and time required for travel
- The safety of the child
- Any applicable services available at the school of residence vs. the school of origin
Additional costs for transportation (whether in-district or out-of-district) will be financed through one of the following methods as provided for under the ESSA and federal regulation (ESEA 1112(c)(5)(B)):
- DHS agrees to reimburse BAPS for any additional cost
- BAPS agrees to pay for the additional cost
- BAPS and DHS agree to share the additional cost
Additional costs are calculated by the district Transportation Office and take into account the availability of district transportation, the distance of the child’s residence from the nearest applicable bus stop, and any related fuel, maintenance, and staffing costs necessary to provide transportation.
The time required for the district to arrange transportation varies depending upon a number of factors, such as current demand, availability of staff and/or vehicles, and location of student. For this reason, if transportation is requested, the foster family or DHS are responsible for arranging for temporary transportation of the child(ren) for at least one week; however, the average time required is usually less than this timeframe.
Once the district foster liaison receives the request from DHS, he/she will complete the Foster Care Information Form, which will be attached with the Best Interest Determination Form and sent to transportation. The transportation representative will contact the sending school district to coordinate the most efficient mode of transportation for the student. Upon completing the transportation plan, the transportation representative will contact the district POC, who will contact the DHS representative with the plan, including times and locations of pick-up and drop-off. The DHS representative will then contact the foster family with the information and, once agreed upon, will notify the district POC, in writing, of the agreement.
While BAPS believes that the school of best interest for a child is most often their school of origin, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the commute time and/or distance is so great that transporting the child would have a negative impact on the child’s social and/or academic life. For this reason, BAPS provides the following general guidance on what the district considers a reasonable commute distance and time.
- Commute distance: 20 miles
- Commute time (one-way): 30 minutes (accounting for traffic)
Disputes in Transportation
It is recognized that both BAPS and DHS will act with the best interests of children in mind; however, since both parties are approaching this issue from different perspectives, disputes will naturally sometimes occur. In the event of a dispute regarding the transportation of a child in foster care, the following will be followed:
- The district will provide transportation until such time as the dispute is resolved (ESEA 1112(c)(5) (B)(i));
- The district policy regarding McKinney-Vento disputes will be followed (Policy 4004 (IV)(C)).
A team, which may include POC, CWA, LEA representative, school counselor, classroom teacher, foster parent, and/or student, will meet, as needed, to discuss the progress of the child in foster care and will document the results. All decisions will be made utilizing a collaborative team approach to determine what will be in the best interest of the child.