The California Department of Education, California Department of Social Services, and the Bureau of Children’s Justice at the California Department of Justice have jointly prepared a “Dear Colleague” letter to address information-sharing protocols between school districts and child welfare agencies concerning foster youth. This letter clarifies expectations for education and child welfare agencies (CWAs) to share information pertaining to foster youth in ways that are lawful and appropriate. This joint letter examines and details:
- The Family and Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and the corresponding statutes in the Education Code, in particular the notable exceptions to the prohibition on sharing personally identifiable information from students’ education or pupil records that would permit (and even require) agencies to share information about foster youth;
- Identification of the “school officials,” and their “legitimate educational interests,” that are appropriate to access Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Foster Match Information;
- Education records that school districts are permitted and/or required to share with CWAs, including information relevant to a child’s educational stability, appropriate and/or least restrictive placements, and educational status and progress information;
- Information that CWAs are permitted and/or required to share with school districts, including institutional placement, placement changes, juvenile court records, receipt of public social services, and health/medical-related information;
- Information that educational agencies and CWAs may and/or must share with caregivers- educational rights holders (ERHs), as well as non-ERH caregivers—including current health and education summaries, as well as potential CWA re-disclosures of pupil records.
The stated goal of this joint letter is to “promote the productive exchange of information” so that those agencies that serve foster youth-school districts, county offices of education, CWAs and caregivers—can better “collaborate and work as a team.” Please contact us if you have any questions or need assistance in developing guidelines or protocols for appropriate and lawful record-sharing concerning your foster youth population. A link to the “Dear Colleague” letter is here.