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Landrieu-Bass Bill Gives Foster Children Better Chances to Succeed in School
Ed Walz (Former Staff)Child Rights
The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation to minimize the academic disruptions facing children who are moved from one school to another. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA, S. 3472), sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), grants child welfare caseworkers access to the school records of children placed in foster care under the state’s legal custody.
“Kids in foster care already face extra hurdles in school, so we should be doing everything we can to advance reforms like the Uninterrupted Scholars Act and eliminate obstacles to their success,” said Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
The Campaign for Children sent a letter endorsing the House legislation in June 2012, and worked with the Senate sponsor to secure legislative support for floor passage. Children in foster care are moved from home to home and school to school more often than other children. When child welfare agencies cannot access school records, children are often left without the means to bring those documents to new schools, because foster parents may not be legal guardians entitled to records access. This results in repeated classes and slower academic progress. Research shows that children and youth in foster care have lower academic achievement, graduation rates and college completion rates than their counterparts. The bill amends the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to ensure students’ privacy while giving their legal guardians access to information essential to minimizing educational disruptions associated with changing schools.
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. It had been passed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate in mid-December, so yesterday’s House passage (also by voice vote) clears the measure for President Obama, who is expected to enact it.
“Senator Landrieu, Congresswoman Bass, and the other Republican and Democratic lawmakers who supported this important legislation have delivered an important reminder that politicians can rise above partisan divides to solve problems that matter to real people,” said Lesley.