U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today introduced the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) to improve educational outcomes for foster youth. Despite Congress passing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act in 2008, current law-the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)-has hindered child welfare agencies' efforts to raise education outcomes and experiences for foster youth.
The legislation introduced today by Sen. Landrieu makes simple changes to fix FERPA and increase the educational success of children and youth in the child welfare system. Children and youth in foster care are traditionally among the most educationally at risk of all student populations.
"This problem was identified not by me or my staff, but it was actually identified by foster youth who came to Washington, D.C., this summer to intern. They brought this problem-that some of their records are not accessible-to my attention. These amazing foster youth interns have asked for a common-sense change, and I'm proud to help make this happen," Sen. Landrieu said during a speech on the Senate floor.
FERPA has made it difficult for child welfare agencies to obtain education records in a timely fashion, comply with existing federal requirements and collect data needed to determine the quality of education foster youth receive. The USA Act will allow access to a student's educational records by the child welfare agency responsible for his or her placement and care; allow child welfare agencies to use educational records for studies related to educational stability and success for foster youth; and eliminate the need for duplicative notices and time delays in transferring records.
The USA Act has already garnered bipartisan support from Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Roy Blunt R-Mo.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. The four co-chairs of the U.S. House Foster Youth Caucus introduced companion legislation, H.R. 5871, on May 31. The original cosponsors of the House version include Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif., Tom Marino, R-Pa., Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.