Youth Services Insider caught a recent webinar organized by the American Bar Association, SPARC and First Focus on the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, which specifically dealt with how states and child welfare systems should go about the business of implementing the law.
For the uninitiated, click here for some details on the act and what it says. In a nutshell, schools now have to hand over academic records to child welfare agencies for children who have been taken into foster care; the approval of biological parents and/or judges is not required.
Kudos to ABA, because implementation of Uninterrupted Scholars Act is an important subject. Adjustments to federal law on information sharing (not of the homeland security variety) are hardly sexy fodder, so it’s pretty likely there are systems not even aware of the change, and even more systems that have yet to ponder compliance with it.
ABA was also kind enough to make some good resources created for its members to our subscribers:
1) A sample joint letter from a state child welfare agency and education department, which could be sent to local school districts as a first wave of alert to the new exception created by the Uninterrupted Scholars Act. The letter hits on all the major points: what changed, whose records are now available to child welfare agencies, and which agency workers can obtain them.
It is a bit on the long side, so it might also make sense to throw in a separate “highlight” sheet, perhaps of the bullet point or Q&A motif, as well as a direct number to whoever can best answer questions about the act.
2) A sample education records release form from Michigan, which is apparently ahead of the game. It hits school officials with the headline right up top: laws changed, you have to give this to us now (mentioning it was a 2013 law might make sense, in YSI’s opinion).
Youth Services Insider is mostly written by Chronicle Editor-in-Chief John Kelly