Education and Foster Children and Youth

  • Children and youth in foster care are some of the most educationally disadvantaged students. They are at higher risk for experiencing short and long term challenges in school such as frequent school changes, suspensions, lower test scores, and higher levels of grade retention and drop-out. Children and youth in foster care face unique barriers to accessing and successfully completing their education. Adverse childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and family dysfunctions are the root cause of many academic, social and behavioral problems. These have the potential to prevent a student from receiving the full benefits from their school and education. Students may struggle to maintain focus, have difficulty engaging consistently, require additional supports and/or may need more individualized instructional time. Building relationships and maintaining connections within the school environment are essential components for foster children and youth to reach their full academic potential. 

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 contains key protections for children and youth in foster care that promote school stability and success, and requires collaboration between schools and child welfare agencies. This recent legislation demands more accountability to ensure efforts are being made to serve and support the educational needs of students in foster care from preschool through high school graduation. The Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 also requires child welfare agencies to have a plan in place for ensuring educational stability of the child while in foster care. The educational stability for these children and youth is the joint responsibility of both the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and the Office of Children's Services. 

    The Foster Care Education program is dedicated to meeting the unique educational needs of all foster children and youth through the collaboration with students, caregivers, schools, child welfare agencies and legal advocates. The program is designed to strengthen partnerships with child welfare and court systems, provide guidance and education on the rights of students in foster care, to work with each student's school to increase the level of understanding of the student's academic and emotional needs, assist in implementing effective learning supports and strategies, and to advocate for equal access of resources afforded to other students.

Foster Children and Youth Education Rights

    • Immediate enrollment into public school, even if they do not have the required documents
    • Remain in the school of origin unless determined it is not in their best interest
    • Equal participation in extra-curricular activities regardless of tryouts or deadlines
    • Enroll in same or equivalent classes as those taken at the previous school
    • Waiver of fees by school administrator

Support Services

  • Educational Assistance: remain in school of origin, credit recovery, tutoring programs and academic support

    Transportation Assistance: to ensure student will be transported to their school of origin if residing outside of their normal attendance area

    Student Advocacy: ensure the student has opportunities for the support and guidance needed to progress academically and socially; inform and help students engage in their school environment of special programs and extracurricular activities

    Build Collaborations: designated Point of Contact (Foster Care Liaison) to facilitate cooperation between the Office of Children's Services and each student's school; uphold confidentiality in the sharing of timely and pertinent information; maintain up to date records regarding contact information - legal guardian. fostering parents and relevant safety issues

    Training and Professional Development: Educate school and child welfare teams on foster youth rights in education and on the impact of trauma on student's academic and social/emotional development; assist in implementing supportive measures to address and overcome student's unique challenges in their school environment

Contact Information

  • Administrative Center
    4th Floor, Suite A
    Main #: (907) 452-2000 x11271
    Fax: (907) 451-1009

    Linda Fraini, LCSW
    Foster Care Liaison
    linda.fraini@k12northstar.org
    (907) 452-2000 x11358

    Helen Clark
    Executive Director of Federal Programs
    helen.clark@k12northstar.org
    (907) 452-2000 x11470