Erika Palmer, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children in New York City, explains parents’ rights to stay involved in their children’s education while their children are in foster care. Advocates for Children’s special project on foster care guides parents and child welfare agencies on educational decision-making for children in care.

1. Keep in Contact With the School

Parents should know that, even if you can’t have unsupervised contact with your children when they enter foster care, you can still go to their schools, talk to their teachers, or get any school documents unless there’s a court order saying you can’t have contact with the school. Also, the child protective agency is required to do school visits, and these visits should involve the parent. Finally, if the child changes schools after entering foster care, the parent should be involved in that decision.

When children enter foster care, there’s nothing legally that says your right to make educational decisions about your child should change unless the court has limited or terminated your parental rights. However, in practice, many decisions are made about the child’s education without the parent’s consent unless the parent is very involved.

For instance, foster parents can register a child to enter a new school near the foster home and that’s usually what they do, even though changing schools in the middle of a year is harmful to a child’s education.

Also, if the parent does not stay in contact, the school district can appoint a surrogate parent to make educational decisions. Schools usually appoint the foster parent as the surrogate, because they don’t know about other options, but it doesn’t have to be the foster parent. You can seek to have family appointed if necessary.

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Republished from Rise Magazine