The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) continued markup of a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) today, otherwise known as the No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment addressing the educational stability of youth in care. Following up with the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections, P.L. 110-351), Senator Franken’s amendment requires that state and local education agencies will work with child welfare agencies to ensure children in care can remain in the school that is in their best interest or promptly transfer when that is in the child’s best interest.
The full committee debated the amendment for about a half an hour. Some committee members were interested in understanding how the new provision differed from what passed under Fostering Connections and how transportation would be provided for children in far away placements. Supporters of the amendment recalled the testimony from an earlier hearing of a young woman who moved several times while in foster care, causing her to switch schools more than ten times. Ultimately, the amendment passed by a vote of 13 to 9. The HELP Committee will continue to markup the bill in hopes of moving it to the Senate Floor soon.