Help Colorado lead the nation in supporting students in foster care.

UPDATE: House Bill 18-1306: 05/04/2018 Senate Floor - Third Reading Aye: 34 No: 0 Other: 1 - Well on our way to the Governor's desk! 

UPDATE: House Bill 18-1306: Appropriations - Refer House Bill 18-1306 to the Committee of the Whole and with a recommendation that it be placed on the consent calendar.

UPDATE: House Bill 18-1306: Senate State Veterans Affairs & Military Affairs - Refer House Bill 18-1306, as amended, to the Committee on Appropriations. The motion passed on a vote of 4-0.

UPDATE: House Bill 18-1306 has been scheduled for upon adjournment of the Senate on Thursday morning, . That typically means that committee starts around 10:30 or 11am, but it is moving target. It will be on the 3rd floor of the Capitol in the Senate State Affairs Committee. If you cannot attend to testify in support, contacting Senators Hill, Marble and Sonnenberg would help tremendously helpful. Contact info below. Providing written testimony to submit to the committee would also be very impactful.  

Thank you all so much for your work on this. Final push!


"Isn't it great when organizations work across systems to document a problem with data, educate about the problem the data illustrates and then get legislation introduced to fix the problem?" said Melissa Wavelet, Colorado Department of Human Services Director of the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes, after reading an article by Chronicle for Social Change on proposed changes which would bring Colorado into full compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The headline in the Chronicle for Social Change reads "Colorado Leads Nation with Bill to Pay for Foster Youths’ Rides to School". Colorado received this national praise for the support proposed in HB 18-1306, Improving Educational Stability For Foster Youth Colorado is in such a great position to lead the nation because of years of collaboration and hard work among the human services and educational state departments, Casey Family Programs, countless advocates and nonprofits, including Mile High United Way and the young people in the Bridging the Gap program, who have bravely shared their experiences repeatedly to get this bill passed. Special thanks to the research teams at the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, particulary Dr. Elysia Clemens, for their groundbreaking work examining trends in educational outcomes for students in foster care. 

This legislation is needed because the 4-year graduation rate for students in foster care in Colorado is only 23% and it is getting worse. This rate was 33% in 2016. The State graduation rate is 81%.

A big reason for that is that when a student enters foster care they not only move homes, they move schools. The mobility rate for students in foster care is 55%. State mobility rate is 16%. (“Mobility Rate” means the number of students who moved into or out of a district during a school year. )

It is no wonder that the dropout rate for students in foster care is 9%.  The State drop-out rate is only 2%.

To make proposed improvements for students in foster care a reality, we need your help. Letting your elected official know you care makes a difference. 

Please contact your Colorado State Senator ASAP to share your experience caring for children involved with our child welfare system and let them know that you support this bill. 

House Bill 18-1306 will help improve educational stability for students in foster care by:

Aligning state law with the federal requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

  • Supports students to remain in their schools of origin.

    • ESSA requires that students in foster care remain in their schools of origin, even when they change living placements, as long as it is in their best interest to do so.

    • Defines school of origin flexibly to reflect the real-life experiences of children and youth by 1) allowing students moving into less restrictive settings (i.e., a facility into a public school) to return to a school where they have a meaningful history, and 2) allowing students to progress with their peers after they reach the highest grade level of their school (i.e., moving with their peers from elementary to middle school).

  • If it is not in a student’s best interest to remain in their school of origin, the student must be immediately enrolled in a new school, even without records.

  • Incorporates support for students to remain in their schools of origin into the description of the local education agency’s child welfare education liaison role. This includes participating in the county-initiated process to determine whether it is in a student’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, transferring records, ensuring immediate enrollment, and participating in transition planning.

  • Provides definitions and other clarifications to ensure effective implementation of federal law.

Providing for transportation for students in foster care.

  • Requires local education providers to enter into MOUs with counties for how transportation to the school of origin will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of time in out-of-home placement.

  • Historically, students in foster care experience about 2,500 incidents of school mobility (i.e., change schools) each year. Many of these school changes could be avoided if transportation were available: on average, the distance from the foster home to the school of origin is about 14 miles and a 23-minute drive.

Defining “student in out-of-home placement.”

  • The current statute defines “student in out of home placement” largely by cross reference to 19-1-103(85), which includes children and youth in “any facility or center operated or licensed by the department of human services,” such as traditional foster care, a licensed kinship placement, a group home, or a residential facility.

  • The bill would allow students to retain their status as a “student in out-of-home placement” for purposes of school stability protections until the end of the semester when they are no longer in out-of-home placement according to Title 19. This avoids a sudden drop of services in the middle of  semester.

Establishing better coordination at the local level for foster students.

  • Establishes a foster care education coordinator position at the department of education.

  • Requires the state department of human services to provide technical assistance and monitoring for these requirements.

  • Requires a interagency-agreements between the department of human services and the department of education to ensure continued collaboration.

Providing transition and academic supports to highly mobile and foster students.

  • Creates a school stability grant program.

  • With each change in foster care placements, with or without a school move, the rate of academic growth declines. Slow academic growth compounds over time, resulting in these students falling further and further behind each year.

  • Academic supports before, during, and after foster care are critical to help this population catch up.

Reducing barriers for foster students to receive high school diplomas.

  • Allows local education providers to waive graduation requirements, use competency-based measures to give credits toward graduation, and for 12th grade students only to request diplomas from the students’ prior schools.

Read the bill.

Contact your legislator to let them know this bill will make a difference and ask them to support  HB 18-1306. Click here to find your legislator. Find tips to contact your legislator below.

Without your support, these improvements may not be possible.

How to contact your representatives
Use this website to find your representative. When you contact your legislator remember the following:

  • Tell them you are a constituent; legislators pay attention to those who put them – and keep them – in office. If you are a current or former student in foster care or parent of a current or former student in foster care, please tell your legislator.
  • Communicate aspects important to you in your own words; legislators prefer not to receive standardized emails and/or calls.
  • Let them know that students in foster care deserve an opportunity to achieve their greatest potential. HB 18-1306 will:
    • Align state law with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

    • Support students to remain in their schools of origin.

    • Provide for transportation for foster students.

    • Establish better coordination at the local level for foster students.

    • Require more immediate enrollment for students placed in foster care.

    • Provide transition supports to highly mobile foster students.

    • Reduce barriers to receiving high school diplomas.

  • Ask them to please vote YES on HB 18-1306 to ensure Colorado's students in foster care have the support they need.
  • Including something specific to you and/or your district is helpful (A personal story, something you saw/heard, why this matters and is especially important to you, etc.).

General Outline for an Email

Dear Senator ________,

My name is _______ and I am writing you today to strongly encourage you to vote YES on House Bill 18-1306. This bill will help improve educational stability for students in the foster care system.  Did you know that there are 6,600 students in foster care in Colorado each year? 

Did you also know that the 4-year graduation rate for Colorado students in foster care is only 23% and it is getting worse. This rate was 33% in 2016. The State graduation rate is 81%.

A big reason for that is that when a student enters foster care they not only have to move homes, they have to move schools. The mobility rate for students in foster care is 55%. State mobility rate is 16%. (“Mobility Rate” means the number of students who moved into or out of a district during a school year. )

It is no wonder that the dropout rate for students in foster care is 9%.  The State drop-out rate is only 2%.

House Bill 18-1306 outlines the critical changes that need to be made to improve these statistics. We need to invest the necessary funding to help students reach their greatest potential. 

Students in foster care are working to overcome countless barriers to receive their high school diplomas, needlessly moving schools should not be among them. As one of your constituents, I ask you to please vote in support of House Bill 18-1306.

You may also be interested in reading some news articles about House Bill 18-1306 Improving Educational Stability For Foster Youth:

Colorado Leads Nation with Bill to Pay for Foster Youths’ Rides to School, Chronicle for Social Change - Apr 23, 2018

A $2.9 million bill aimed at improving the educational success of students who are foster youths cleared a key committee in the Colorado legislature in April.If the bill is signed by the governor, Colorado will be the first state to legislate the implementation of a federal law that compels school systems to ensure that, among other things, foster kids have a ride to school. . .. 

Three-quarters of Colorado foster kids aren't graduating on time ..., The Denver Post-Apr 10, 2018

Of the about 6,500 children in Colorado's foster system last year, 55 percent changed schools at least once during the school year. Usually, the ... She asked lawmakers to consider the next foster child to “walk in my shoes,” saying transportation could set them up to “succeed and heal.” Michaya Collins, 22 ...

Lawmakers Pushing For More Foster Family Support At State Capitol, CBS Denver-Apr 11, 2018

Dafna Michaelson Jenet are carrying bills to give foster parents more child care assistance and to give foster kids transportation to school when they're taken out of their home. Michaelson Jenet says it will help improve graduation rates and lower the school dropout rate, which is at an all-time high for foster ...

This bill could help Colorado foster youth keep their school ..., Chalkbeat Colorado-Apr 12, 2018

The bill would require county child welfare officials and schools to work out transportation plans so that children can stay in their home schools when they go into foster care. It would make funding available to counties to work out solutions that make sense in their area, whether that's contracting with ...

Sincerely,

(sign your name)

Want to share your experience in person?

The bill has passed the house and will be heard in committee next week. The date and time has yet to be set; however, if you would like to follow the bill and COME TESTIFY IN SUPPORT follow #SupportKidsinFosterCare. As soon as we know, you will know. Anyone can come testify. CDHS is strongly encouraging foster and kinship parents, students who have been in foster care and advocates to attend the hearing and testify in support of the bill.

What’s next for House Bill 18-1348.

Hopefully, with your support, the bill will pass out of committee and then be voted on by the Senate as a whole. It is important for you to contact your elected officials before May 4th to let them know that you care about this bill.

You can also share your support and get updates on this bill on social media with the #SupportKidsinFosterCare #COleg #COpolitics.

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