Foster care is 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians by a child welfare agency. This includes, but is not limited to, children living in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, childcare institutions, and pre-adoptive homes.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a student in foster care has the right to:
- a free public education
- stay in their current school or choose to attend a new school
- immediately enroll in a new school if it has been determined that it is not in their best interest to stay at their original school
- transportation services to and from school
- services comparable to those offered to other students
Unless a court order says otherwise, the birth/adoptive parent of a child in foster care keeps the right to make educational decisions for their child.
Birth/adoptive parents must have the chance to know about their child’s progress at school. Unless a court order says otherwise, they must be allowed to obtain records, attend parent-teacher conferences, and fully participate in the student’s education.
Special education evaluations and services require the consent of the birth/adoptive parent unless:
- There is a court order naming someone else as the educational decision-maker;
- The parent names someone else as a “person in parental relation” for purposes of educational planning; or
- The parents’ whereabouts or identities are unknown, and a surrogate must be appointed.
School Enrollment and Transfers
Students in foster care should remain in the schools they attended before they entered foster care or changed foster homes. That is, unless the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and/or a foster care agency determines that doing so is not in their best interests. In keeping with this “best interest determination,” a student in foster care may attend either:
- The school the student attended when they entered foster care or changed foster homes
- A school zoned for the address of the student’s foster home
- Any other schools available to students in the same area
The ACS Office of Education Support must approve all transfer requests made by foster parents or foster care agency staff.
Once a transfer is approved:
- Elementary or middle school students can register at their new school directly.
- High school students, students without a zoned school, or families looking to explore other options should visit a Family Welcome Center (see below) to receive a school assignment.
Children coming from a school outside the City may newly- or re-enroll without a Best Interest Determination.
Students in foster care have the right to transportation to and from school.
Students in Pre-K to grade six are entitled to school bus service if a route is available. Foster care agencies should submit an exception application for students not otherwise eligible for busing. They should assist with arranging private transportation while the application is pending.
If we can’t provide a bus, we will give your child a full fare MetroCard. Alternatively, foster care agencies can assist with arranging private transportation.
Call 718-392-8855 for information about yellow buses or visit our transportation web page:
To get help at school, please reach out to your school’s guidance counselor and/or social worker for assistance.
For technical assistance and questions about students in foster care, please contact the Citywide Coordinator for Child Abuse and Maltreatment Prevention at 212-374-0805. Or reach out to one of the contacts below:
Find Out More
Foster Care Guidance