Yesterday, the House passed the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S. 3472), earlier passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on December 17th. The bill, now awaiting the President’s signature, amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, P.L. 93-380) to ensure child welfare agencies can access school records of students in foster care, as they are mandated. Access to educational records will help students recoup lost credits, speed their timely transfer to new schools and will give social workers and administrators a more complete picture of academic success to guide decisions about the child’s well-being. At the same time, the bill preserves educational privacy rights of students and parents as FERPA intends.
Youth in care have disproportionately poor educational outcomes as a consequence of the domestic instability they face. By addressing barriers to data sharing between education and child welfare, this bill is a positive step towards stabilizing the systems charged with the well-being of youth in care. The approach behind the bill was first introduced (H.R. 5871) in the House in June and then a companion bill (S. 3472) was introduced in the Senate in August. Throughout the bill was championed by the bi-partisan co-chairs of both the House Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the Senate Foster Youth Caucus.