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Components of Successful Systems Collaboration

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1 Components of Successful Systems Collaboration
Child Welfare, Education and the Courts: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Successes of Children and Youth in Foster Care November 3, 2011 Ann Rossi Mary Cagle Kathleen McNaught

2 Why do we need system reform for the education issues?
To hard to solve individually for each child Coordination between child welfare and education agencies, the courts, and others, is needed Collaborative protocols and policies must be created to ensure all are on same page. Consistent practices across jurisdiction or state are necessary when issues involve mobility in the child’s living and school placements. CFSRs – Well Being Outcome #2

3 Collaboration Key Themes
Prioritize education as an key issue in achieving permanency for children in care for child welfare agencies and courts Work with education agencies to help elevate the issues related to children in foster care. ; Securing buy-in support and participation by leadership from education agencies and child welfare agencies; maintaining progress and momentum over time; addressing the need for data to demonstrate how children are doing educationally and identify larger picture view on greatest areas of need; identifying “small wins” and reachable short term goals; and strategies for working with LEAs and child welfare agencies and interpreting and coordinating languages and priorities of each agency

4 Prioritizing Education Needs of Children in Foster Care
For Child Welfare Agencies: the need is to prioritize education For Education Agencies: the need is to prioritize children in foster care For Courts: the need is to help ensure that the courts themselves, as well as the agencies and all other critical stakeholders, are prioritizing education

5 Leadership Buy-In and Participation
Court Leadership Child Welfare Leadership Education Leadership Other Community Leadership

6 Maintaining Progress and Momentum
Cross agency collaboration is hard work Changes come over time and with sustained commitment from all participants Key is to have both short and long term goals and consistent participation by the right stakeholders Way to celebrate “victories” Way to revisit goals and plans as revise as needed to stay current Way to learn from others in the field and seek external support and assistance

7 Small Wins and Short Term Goals
Critical to sustain momentum Examples: Creation of forms to help facilitate communication across agencies Reviewing and analyzing existing data Changes to court orders to address access to education records Letter from State Education commissioners to all LEAS to inform them of the Fostering Connections education provisions

8 Need for Data If we haven’t measured it, it didn’t happen.
Don’t wait for “perfect” data Need to know status of how children in care are doing and where the gaps and needs are; AND Need to be able to track improvements as strategies and policies are implemented. Child welfare agencies: changes to SACWIS and state data systems to allow for education information Education agencies: NCLB requirements for education data for all students; need method to obtain that information for subset of children who are in care. Cross system sharing is critical but challenging; court can play critical role is assisting to address confidentiality issues

9 Data Resources Mythbusting: Downloadable at Solving the Data Puzzle: Education Court Performance Measures: draft addition to the Judicial Performance Measures Toolkit

10 Key Components of Successful Collaborations
Creating Common Knowledge Base Setting Clear Goals-short and long term Establishing a structure and process Maintaining communication and momentum For more detail see Making It Work issue brief, part of a Fostering Connections Implementation Toolkit series, found at Each agency does “homework” to understand own system Each agency must learn about the other agencies and systems What does child welfare know about education? What does education know about child welfare? How do either view the role of the court and other stakeholders? Key is to have both short and long term goals and consistent participation by the right stakeholders Way to celebrate “victories” Way to revisit goals and plans as revise as needed to stay current Way to learn from others in the field and seek external support and assistance 10

11 Two Examples of Collaboration
Michigan State level relationships Florida State leadership supporting local collaborations

12 Education Planning and Collaboration
November 2011 Presented by: Michigan Department of Education Michigan Department of Human Services 12

13 Michigan Collaboration Timeline
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS 2006 Michigan Department of Education (MDE) Guidance on “Awaiting Foster Care Placement” for McKinney-Vento (MV) Homeless Education Programs. 2008 October 7 – Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L , Fostering Connections Act). October 24 – Michigan Settlement:  Dwayne B. v. Granholm. November 3 – MDE Full-time Homeless Education Consultant position was hired , fulfilling the role of State Coordinator for Homeless Education, required by the McKinney-Vento law. November – DHS legislative liaison and policy writer met with new Homeless Education Consultant to discuss pending legislation in MI for foster care and education collaboration. December 17 – Michigan’s legislature passed P.A November 2011

14 Michigan Collaboration Timeline
CROSS TRAINING 2009 Michigan DHS developed position descriptions for Education Planners. Michigan Department of Education developed regional consortium grant system for MV Homeless Education programs. 2010 March – MDE Homeless Ed Coordinator met with DHS and Dept. of Treasury to collaborate on efforts for College Goal Sunday. June – 14 DHS Foster Care Education Planners were trained in MV Law, guidance, MI policies /procedures, strategies, and best practices. September – DHS Education Planners trained MV Homeless Education Grant Coordinators in foster care education needs, Fostering Connections law, guidance, MI DHS. 2011 July 14 – DHS and MDE coordinators and staff presented collaborative webinar for the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). November 2011

15 Michigan’s Guidance on “Awaiting Foster Care Placement”
November 2011 In 2006 MDE Homeless Education Program published guidance for public school districts clarifying the M-V definition of “awaiting foster care placement.” Any child/youth in the first 6 months of any new out-of-home placement is considered to be awaiting foster care placement - and is eligible for M-V homeless education services. Once identified as M-V eligible, services continue through the end of the current school year. 15

16 Education Provisions of Fostering Connections
Child welfare agencies must include within the case plan assurances of the educational stability. DHS must ensure that child welfare agencies: Consider appropriateness of school and proximity to school of origin when making foster care placements. Work with schools to ensure child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at time of placement. November 2011 16

17 Education Provisions of Fostering Connections
If remaining in same school is not in the best interest of the child, the case plan must include assurances the child welfare agencies have worked with the schools to: Provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school; and Provide all of the educational records of the child to the school. November 2011 17

18 Dwayne B. v. Granholm, et al. Provisions
VIII.A.5(a,b,c) Provision of Educational Services: pages (FOM 722-6) DHS shall: DHS shall take reasonable steps to ensure that school-aged foster children receive an education appropriate to their needs. Take reasonable steps to ensure that school-aged foster children are registered for and attending school within 5 days of initial placement or any placement change. Make reasonable efforts to ensure the continuity of a child’s educational experience – Keeping the child in a familiar or current school and neighborhood, when this is in the child’s best interests; Limiting the number of school changes. November 2011 18

19 Dwayne B. v. Granholm, et al. Provisions
VIII.A.4.b(v) Supports for Children Transitioning to Adulthood pgs By October 2009, DHS shall hire 14 regional education planners who shall provide consultation and support to youth age 14 and older in accessing educational services and in developing individualized education plans, including identifying all available financial aid resources. November 2011 19

20 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act: Key Provisions
November 2011 Reauthorized in 2002 as Title X of NCLB/ESEA Main themes: School stability Access to school and school services Support for academic success Child-centered focus Decision making in best interest of child 20 20

21 School Stability – Key Provisions
November 2011 Children and youth experiencing homelessness can stay in their school of origin, school of residence, or enroll in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend, according to their best interest School of origin — school attended when permanently housed or in which last enrolled. School of residence — school where other students living at that address are assigned to attend, or charter school. Best interest — keep homeless students in their schools of origin, to the extent feasible, unless this is against the parents’ or guardians’ wishes. 21 21

22 Who is considered homeless?
November 6, 2010January 6, 2010 Who is considered homeless? Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence: (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 2002) Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason. Living in motels, hotels, RV/trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations. Living in emergency, domestic violence, or transitional shelters. Temporary foster care placement or “awaiting placement.” Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live or sleep. Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, under bridges, etc. Migratory children living in above circumstances . Runaway or “throw-away” youth not with parent/guardian. November 2011 Doubling up at your girlfriend/boyfriend house for convenience sake is not considered homeless. 22 22 22

23 Strategies to Maximize the M-V Act for Youth Awaiting Foster Care Placement
Design and implement procedures for schools and child welfare agencies to share confidential information in order to deliver timely, effective services to children in care. Clarify education-related roles and responsibilities of both agencies. Treat youth in out-of-home care with dignity, understanding, and discretion. Assist students aging out of care in applying for college financial aid and to institutions of interest Higher Education Act. College Cost Reduction and Access Act. November 2011 23

24 Strategies to Maximize the M-V Act for Youth Awaiting Foster Care Placement
November 2011 Develop and use shared definitions and procedures via inter-agency agreements Consult the State Coordinator for Homeless Education at the state education agency for existing definition, policies, and procedures. Cross-train state and local personnel on the definition, policies and strategies to implement these. Building Futures Through Education, National Assoc. for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009 24

25 Strategies to Maximize the M-V Act for Youth Awaiting Foster Care Placement
November 2011 Coordinate school transportation and share responsibility for costs The Fostering Connections Act permits states to access federal child welfare funding that may be used to cover reasonable transportation to the school of origin for a student in foster care. State child welfare agencies must contribute state dollars in order to access these federal funds. 25 Building Futures Through Education, National Assoc. for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009

26 Role of McKinney Grant Coordinator
Assist in coordinating educational services for homeless students which includes ensuring that enrollment/transportation is arranged in an timely manner. Ensure that homeless students have appropriate school supplies and clothing , access to tutoring if needed, school activities, etc. Provide Technical Assistance to all educational service providers in Wayne County. Provide education and training on McKinney-Vento to district staff and local district liaisons. Educate and train newly appointed district liaisons on their role as a McKinney-Vento District Liaison. Provide community resources to homeless families . Work closely with the DHS Education Planner to ensure that Foster Youth receive services they are eligible for. Central Data Collection for County to report to MDE. November 2011 26

27 What will an Education Planner Do?
Provide specific assistance: In developing long-term educational goals. In the transition between high school and post-secondary education. In the educational transition between residential facilities and the return to the community. In the transition from the educational system to the workforce. In enrollment and record transfer between schools when a move is unavoidable. November 2011 27

28 Referral Process Used in Oakland County
Once a referral is made to Oakland Schools from DHS, the information is sent to the district in which the student is attending. The district liaison (in conjunction with Oakland Schools) begins working on addressing the needs that have been identified on the referral (examples include expediting enrollment, arranging transportation from current residing district, getting school supplies to the student, school uniforms, shoes, school records, birth certificates, etc.) Most collaboration and communication is done between the DHS Education Planner and Oakland Schools Homeless Student Education Program. However, in complicated situations, the ED Planner is also in direct contact with the local liaison. November 2011

29 The referral Process and The Plan that was Developed…………..
A referral form and Needs Assessment were completed by Kristen Donnay at DHS and sent to Sara Orris at Oakland Schools. Needs indicated on Needs Assessment: Transportation to Southfield from Utica. Shoes for gym class. School Supplies as most were left behind. November 2011

30 Making Best Interest Decisions
The District of Origin or School of Residence staff are very helpful in making the best interest decisions. Ideally, they provide: Input on academic, social, and emotional impact that changing schools may have on the child, the child’s progress and services. Help determine which programs at the schools are comparable and appropriate for the child. Provide information on the commute to the schools in terms of the distance, mode of transportation, and travel time. November 2011

31 Best interest factors foster care workers need to consider regarding school placement include:
The parent/guardian’s and child’s school of preference. Educational input from school personnel and educational liaison. The child’s: Social and emotional state. Academic achievement/strengths/weaknesses. Continuity of relationships. Special education programming. Extra-curricular activity participation. Distance/travel time to and from current school/new placement and the impact on the child. Supportive relationships and/or services. Length of anticipated stay in placement and the permanency plan. November 2011

32 Best Interest Other Questions to Consider
How many schools has the child attended over the past few years? How would changing schools affect the child or youth’s ability to earn full academic credit, proceed to the next grade or graduate on time? What schools do the siblings attend? November 2011

33 Case Example - Scenario
After collaboration with the school district, M-V liaison, foster parent, student, DHS education planner, and foster care worker, the determination was made that it would be in Hazel’s best interest to complete the remainder of the academic year in Southfield. Next Step: Complete a referral form and Needs Assessment. November 2011

34 Case Example - Scenario
The Plan………… Sara immediately sent the information on to the Southfield School District local liaison who began working on transportation arrangements with Utica School District. Sara immediately sent a clothing voucher to the family to purchase new shoes for gym class as well as a backpack full of supplies. Sara arranged for a cab to provide transportation for Hazel while Southfield and Utica made reasonable transportation arrangements. November 2011

35 Case Example - Scenario
The Plan Continued………… Within a few days, Southfield and Utica had developed the following transportation plan: Utica would pick Hazel up at her aunt’s home in the morning and transport her to the Macomb/Oakland County line where a Southfield bus would pick her up and transport her to school. In the afternoon, Southfield would transport her back to the Macomb/Oakland County line where a Utica bus would meet her to take her back to her aunt’s home. November 2011

36 Case Example - Scenario
The Result….. The plan worked out nicely and Hazel was able to successfully complete the year in Southfield. She plans to enroll in Utica in the Fall as the long term plan is for her to remain with her aunt. Alternate Ending….. The following September, Hazel’s mother is making progress with her treatment plan and it is likely that Hazel will be returned home by February Hazel is excelling academically at Coolidge High School and has developed many friendships with her peers. She runs track and plays volleyball at school. It is determined that it would be in Hazel’s best interest to remain at Coolidge High School. November 2011

37 Case Example - Scenario
The school contacts Sara Orris regarding Hazel’s situation. However, Hazel is no longer McKinney-Vento eligible since she has been in her placement for longer than six months and the school year in which she was eligible has ended. Sara Orris contacts Kristen Donnay, DHS Education Planner , regarding Hazel, who is now eligible to remain at her school under Fostering Connections guidelines. The Fostering Connections Act includes payment for reasonable transportation in the foster care maintenance payment (i.e. payment to foster parents). DHS is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation, which is billed on a DHS-1582-CS. November 2011

38 Challenges Funding (always!)
Education planners are not in every county. Dynamics of CHANGE. Staff turnover. Common vocabulary – Alphabet Soup! Geographical differences – rural and urban areas. Maintaining and growing collaboration. November 2011



41 Circuit 15 Palm Beach County
Action Plan

42 Topic: Voluntary Pre Kindergarten (VPK)
Goal: Voluntary Pre Kindergarten (VPK) - ensure enrollment of all eligible children in care in VPK. Owner: Children's Legal Services (CLS) in conjunction with Child and Family Connections (CFC). Timeframe: Initiated and ongoing. Status: As of September 2, out of the 62 VPK eligible children in care confirmed enrolled in VPK. (non enrollment for 6 children justified due to specific case circumstances)

43 Topic: Start of School Goal: All children in care are to start school timely at the beginning of the school year. Owner: School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) , Child and Family Connections (CFC) , Children's Legal Services (CLS) Timeframe: This action plan is complete. Status: As of the start of the school year, 87% of students in care started school timely on August 22, 2011 (483 of 553 students). CLS and CFC case management will identify barriers that prevented 13% of the students in care from starting school timely.

44 Topic: Information Sharing
Goal: Overcome technical barriers to sharing of educational information. Owner: School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) , Child and Family Connections (CFC) , Children's Legal Services (CLS) and Department of Children and Families (DCF). Timeframe: Initiated and ongoing. Status: All school age children in care now have a “salmon colored registration form”, the local adaptation of the statewide school admission form in their school folders. Completion of this form was the first step in identifying children in care within the general population of students enrolled in county public schools to track progress and barriers as a subgroup. To date, we have successfully flagged 553 school-aged children currently enrolled in county public schools. The EDW is a School District Report that contains the most critical information regarding a student’s current curriculum, teacher names, attendance, special needs etc. is now electronically accessible by CFC case managers. To overcome confidentiality issues, CLS ensures that the Court enters an order allowing for the sharing of educational for all children in care. CLS provides copies of the order to the School District and case management within hours of a child being sheltered by the court.

45 Everybody’s a Teacher Case Manager’s Guide
Contents Chapter Early Learning: Education from birth to kindergarten CHAPTER Elementary, Middle and High School CHAPTER When a child has, or is suspected of having, a disability that affects learning or access to learning CHAPTER Case plans must address the education needs and goals of the child CHAPTER The role of Children’s Legal Services (CLS) CHAPTER The role of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

46 Early Learning: Education from birth to kindergarten
Everyone in a child’s life– caregivers, case managers, teachers, parents, relatives, community members – have the opportunity and responsibility to provide a nurturing environment that promotes the physical, emotional, and educational well-being of a child.

47 Build collaborations and case plan “tasks” to create shared responsibility for child safety and well-being Families, caregivers, case managers and educators all play roles in supporting language and literacy development at every step from birth through secondary school. Everyone can help the child by collaborating to provide support and services through transitions, sharing information, evaluating the child’s progress over time, and building knowledge and skills in the parents and caregivers.

48 School Stability “I am in the 11th grade, and I have attended seven different high schools. Each move made it so much harder for me.” Young Adult in the Independent Living program

49 Begin with the Child Work with the child as much as possible when setting education goals. Remember that not all education occurs in the classroom. Work with the caregivers and parents, engaging them, establishing goals and services for them to support the child’s education, in and outside of school. Work with all of the adults on tracking these goals and tasks. Be sure to include provisions for rewarding the child’s successes.

50 Quotes from a Focus Group of Youth Formerly in Care
“I was the only one in class with nothing to put on my first resume.” “Everyone else had volunteer or real jobs and things from outside of class.” “I felt like it was something else I had missed by being in foster care.“

51 Partner with CLS The CLS lawyers represent the State and must seek justice for the children and their families. They are your partners in moving the case forward and can especially be helpful in obtaining any court order needed for the best interests of the child. They do not represent you or any of the provider agencies. You are the star witness but not the client. Good casework will include making sure Children’s Legal Services is updated regularly, especially on issues relating to a child’s education. and families on education issues.

52 Partner with GAL The guardian ad litem (GAL) investigates the facts of the child’s safety and well-being and forms an opinion on the best interests of the child. Good casework includes making sure the GAL is updated regularly, especially on issues relating to well-being, including the child’s education. Send the GAL notification of all school issues, especially performance problems, attendance and disciplinary actions. Remember that the GAL can be a resource for obtaining assistance for children on education issues.

53 Examples of partnerships for enhanced learning include
Every Child Counts which teaches parents and caregivers of pre-school age children how to help their children learn math concepts and Backyard Science which teaches science in the home and Everybody is a Reader encouraging reading in the home. All materials were developed to prepare the child to achieve the Common Core Standards.




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