Know Your Rights: Foster Youth Students
Can I stay in the same school even if I move to a new foster placement?
YES. You have the right to remain in your “school of origin.” This includes your previous school, the school you attended in your last “permanent” placement, or any other school to which you felt “connected” in the last 15 months.i
Do I have the right to free transportation to my school, even if it’s far away?
NO, unless you are in special education and transportation is required by your Individualized Education Plan. However, your district’s foster youth liaison should work with you and your caregiver to figure out a transportation plan. Your caregiver may be entitled to reimbursement from your child welfare agency for the cost of getting you to your school of origin.ii
When I change schools, can I enroll immediately, even if all the paperwork isn’t complete?
YES. You have the right to be enrolled immediately when you change schools.iii This is true even if you don’t have your immunization records or school transcripts or did not “check out” of your last school.
Do I have the right to be enrolled in the same classes when I switch schools?
YES. You have the right to be enrolled in the same or similar classes you were enrolled in at your last school. Your new school counselor must request all records from your old school and calculate all your credits, including any partial credits.iv
Can I be penalized for foster care-related absences?
Your grades may not be lowered due to absences caused by a change in placement, a court appearance, or a court-ordered activity.v
Do I have the right to do the same extracurricular activities and school sports as other students?
YES, even if you recently moved to a new school.vi
Do I have special rights if I change high school after my sophomore year?
YES. If you changed high school after your sophomore year, and it caused a setback in your credits, you may be eligible for a high school diploma that requires fewer credits. You may also qualify for a fifth year of high school. vii You should meet with your school counselor to determine which option is best for you.
What rights do I have when applying to college or technical training?
You have the right to NOT pay the application fee when applying to community college. You also have the right to receive up to $5,000 per year through the Chafee scholarship as well as the maximum amount of federal student aid.
What rights do I have to extra educational supports?
You have the right to receive special support from your school district and county. Every school district is required to have a “foster youth educational liaison” and most county offices of education operate a “Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSC).” Liaisons and FYSC programs are there to help and can work with you to identify the supports and services you need to be successful in school.
i California Education Code § 48853.5(f)
ii California Education Code § 48853.5(e)(10)
iii California Education Code §§ 48853.5(e)(8)(B)
iv California Education Code §§ 51225.2, 48645.5(a)
v California Education Code § 49069.5(g)-(h)
vi California Education Code § 48850(a)
vii California Education Code § 51225.1