Yesterday the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth introduced the A+Plus Act, H.R. 5871, which will reform national education law to allow access to students’ records for children who are in foster care. Currently, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), unintentionally hinders the educational success of students in foster care by creating a barrier between school records and the temporary guardians of the youth – the child welfare agencies. Without access to a student’s records, child welfare agencies and social workers are limited in their ability to advocate for the youth’s educational success. The A+Plus Act will rectify this obstacle by granting child welfare agencies direct access to school records for youth in care. The legislation has been introduced by all four co-chairs of the caucus, Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and enjoys bipartisan support.
The caucus held a rally to support the bill and to celebrate Foster Youth Shadow Day in which 25 young people who emancipated from foster care spent the day with a Member of Congress. Many of the youth spoke at the rally in support of the legislation as well as other issues they hope to see addressed to improve the lives of young people who have experienced out-of-home care.
Bass spoke about how moved she was by the stories of the young people and how impressed she was with their advocacy. Marino shared with the audience his experience being a foster father to a teenager who will be emancipating soon.