CHILDREN AND YOUTH CASEWORKERS EDUCATION SCREEN

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1 CHILDREN AND YOUTH CASEWORKERS EDUCATION SCREEN When a child enters the child welfare system, and at each of his/her six month reviews, a caseworker shall use this Education Screen to assess a child s educational needs. Meeting children s education needs makes permanency more likely and dramatically expands a child s future opportunities. How to use the Screen: Caseworkers should review the child s education records, and/or interview the child, his or her caregivers, and his or her educators. The most accurate interview will involve both a record review and interviews. After completing the entire screen, review it and if any box within a section is checked, turn to the accompanying Action Steps Tool which will help you decide how to address the problem. The Screen should be used for all children those living with their families and those in out-of-home care. Note on Parental Involvement: The tool accompanying this screen identifies steps caseworkers can take to assist children in getting the educational services they need and deserve. However, even for children in out of home care, caseworkers can help promote positive family interactions by empowering parents to take these steps directly on behalf of their children whenever possible.

2 General Education Screen Complete this tool for all children in special education and regular education. Proceed to the action tool for that item for any box checked NO on this page. Yes No 1. EDUCATION RECORDS A. Parental consent or judicial order is on file to receive child s education records. B. Up-to-date education records are in the child s file. Yes No 2. EDUCATION STABILITY/PROMPT ENROLLMENT A. Caseworker has considered the proximity and appropriateness of the child s school for any potential placement change. B. Caseworker has located a placement in the same school district or attendance area for any placement change. C. Child is enrolled in school and attending regularly with necessary documents. Yes No 3. SPECIAL SCHOOLS SETTINGS/SITUATIONS A. Child is enrolled in regular public school (not alternative education and not on-site in group home or congregate care setting). B. Child is receiving at least 5.5 hours per day of instruction. Yes No C. Caseworker has assisted child in accessing AP or honors courses or extra-curricular activities as appropriate. 4. PROGRESS TOWARD PROMOTION OR GRADUATION A. Student has received full or partial credits for all coursework completed. B. Student s academic performance adequate (no need for remedial services). C. Student who has completed coursework has been issued diploma. Yes No 5. PREPARATION FOR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION (applies only to students 16 or older) A. Post-secondary planning has occurred (e.g. student has taken necessary entry exams and prep courses, visited colleges or vocational programs). B. Student has been informed about financial resources for postsecondary education and has been assisted in accessing these resources (e.g. Chafee Education and Training Grant, possibility of board extension, FAFSA, health care and housing options).

3 Special Education/Disability Accommodation Screen Complete this tool for all children in special education and regular education. Proceed to the action tool for that item, for each box checked on this page. Referral Needed Action needed Action needed Referral needed 6. SPECIAL EDUCATION ELIGIBILITY (complete this section only for child without existing IEP) A. Child has a disability that may affect school functioning (e.g. has a diagnosis or receives treatment for a cognitive, behavioral or physical health problem; is living in a placement for individuals with disabilities such as a PRTF, RTF, ICF/MR or partial hospitalization program). B. Child has serious problems with academic performance (e.g. any of the following unexplained by other factors: repeated a grade in the last 3 years; received many Ds or Fs in the last 2 years; has a C average with history of special ed services, scored below basic on recent PSSA in reading or math). C. Child is not performing well in school and has serious disciplinary or truancy problems that suggest a possible special education need. D. Child s family or caregiver believes the child should be evaluated. E. Other reasons child should be evaluated: 7. ADEQUACY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES A. Child may need additional or different services and supports (e.g.. child not making good academic or behavioral progress or could be in regular class but is in separate class). B. Youth is 14 or over and does not have a transition plan in his IEP (a plan of services to help the student achieve post-school outcomes). C. Child s evaluation is older than 3 years (or older than 2 years for a child with mental retardation), and parent has not waived in writing the re-evaluation. 8. NEED FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION DECISION-MAKER Child s parent is not available or is not actively representing the child in the special education process, and no foster parent can do so. 9. NEED FOR ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A DISABILITY OR HEALTH CONDITION Child needs accommodations in the school setting for a disability or health condition (e.g. needs sign-language interpreter, access to medications, special seating in classroom).

4 ACTION STEPS TOOL FOR EDUCATION SCREEN How to use this Tool: Specific guidance is provided with regard to each issue identified through the Education Screen. For each issue, a caseworker should attempt to resolve the matter by talking to the appropriate representative of the school district. If the matter cannot be resolved despite such efforts, please contact your County Education Liaison for further guidance. Use the space provided to identify action steps taken. You may need to take more than one action step to address some of the problems identified in the Screen. NOTE ON CONFIDENTIALITY AND PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT Throughout this document, we have recommended contacting a child s school district. Whenever possible, you should support the child s parent in making these contacts directly. Additionally, when you are contacting the school district yourself, you should first gain the parent s consent. We also advise consulting directly with older youth to determine when the youth wants you to contact the school, and to involve the youth in his or her own education planning and advocacy. 1. EDUCATION RECORDS If you checked NO to box A (because no consent or judicial order on file), ensure that you have either parental consent or a judicial order. Without these, you cannot legally obtain education records (despite the federal mandate that you maintain them in the file). If you checked NO to box B (because education records not in file), contact the school to receive education records, using the parental consent or judicial order mentioned above. ACTIONS TAKEN: Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on

5 2. EDUCATION STABILITY If you checked NO to Box A (because you have not yet considered proximity and appropriateness of child s school before placement change): If the current school is appropriate, try to place the child within the same school district or attendance area so that the child can stay in the same school. For further information on this determination, see OCYF Bulletin If you checked NO to Box B (because the child is moving to a new school district or attendance area): Work to keep the child at the same school unless doing so is not in the child s best interests. If the child is awaiting foster care placement under McKinney-Vento, contact the school district s McKinney-Vento liaison at the child s school. If you have problems, contact the McKinney-Vento regional coordinator. Ask the school district liaison for this contact information. If the Regional Coordinator disagrees, the child has a right to appeal to the State Coordinator. Also, remember that if a child alleges that he is homeless, that student has the legal right to remain in the same school until any dispute is fully resolved. If the child is not awaiting foster care placement under McKinney-Vento, work with the school district to keep the child in the same school pursuant to the Fostering Connections Act. You can advise the school district that such efforts are strongly encouraged by PDE pursuant to BEC 24 P.S For further information on this determination, see OCYF Bulletin If you checked NO to Box B (because is moving) or C (because the child has not been attending school): Help the child to enroll as quickly as possible. Any person with care and control of the child can enroll the child including a caseworker. If the child is awaiting foster care placement under McKinney-Vento, ensure that the school enrolls the child immediately, even if otherwise required documents are not available. If the child is not awaiting foster care placement under McKinney-Vento, help the child enroll promptly, by gathering required documents including: (1) proof of age (includes baptismal certificate, prior school records or notatized statement from parents or another relative indicating date of birth); (2)

6 immunization records (written statement or verbal assurance with records to follow from prior school or medical office); (3) proof of foster parent s and child s residency; and (4) a sworn statement of the child s disciplinary record regarding offenses involving drugs, alcohol, weapons, infliction of injury or violence on school property. The school cannot require any other records. For more information on enrollment rules and trouble-shooting, see Learn the Rules for Enrolling a Child in School and the Steps you an Take if you Run into a Problem, and Sample Enrollment Letter at ACTIONS TAKEN: Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 3. SPECIAL SCHOOL SETTINGS/SITUATIONS If you checked NO to Box A (because child is not in regular school): Ensure that the child wasn t placed there in violation of the law. A school district can only place a child in an alternative school if: (1) the student violated a rule of that school; or (2) the child has been expelled for a weapons offense. When the expulsion for the weapons offense ends, the child must be allowed to return to regular school. Unless the court has ordered that the child be educated on-site or there is another exceptional reason for the child to be educated on-site, the child has the right to attend the public schools in the host district. A residential placement cannot require the child to attend the on-site school as a condition of attending the facility. Unless remaining in that school is in the child s best interest, advocate for the child to resume regular school. Talk with the school principals from the alternative and regular schools to see whether this will be possible. If you checked NO to Box B (because child is receiving few hours per day of instruction):

7 Talk to the principal to advocate that the child receive full-time instruction. Students are generally entitled to receive full-day instruction (5.5 hours for high school students and 5 hours for elementary school students.). If a student is receiving only a few hours of instruction per day and does not have a medical condition which prohibits his attending school, advocate that the school district provide the student with full-time instruction. The school cannot require the student to receive such homebound instruction unless the student s medical condition necessitates it. If you checked NO to Box C (Child demonstrates talents or special interests): Work with the child to identify their skills and interests, and then contact the school to help meet the child s needs. Work with the school to see whether the child qualifies for a gifted and talented program, Advanced Placement (AP)courses, or relevant extra-curricular activities Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 4. PROGRESS TOWARD PROMOTION OR GRADUATION If you checked NO to Box A (because child has insufficient credits): Speak with the school s guidance counselor to address additional credits the child may have earned. Review all courses the child has taken and ensure that the school has accurately counted the child s credits and partial-credits, and that the school recognizes coursework substantially similar to the district s curriculum. PA regulations provide that credit granted by a public school shall be accepted by all public schools and institutions in this Commonwealth upon the transfer of a student. 22 Pa. Code If necessary, discuss the availability of credit recovery programs at the school. If you checked NO to Box B (because child may need remedial services): Talk with the school s guidance counselor about available tutoring and other remedial programs during and after school. If you checked NO to Box C (because child needs diploma):

8 Contact the school to advocate that the child receives the diploma. When appropriate encourage the present school district to contact the prior school to assess whether credits from that school will satisfy the current school s graduation requirements or if not, to determine whether the prior school can issue a diploma. Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 5. PREPARATION FOR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION If you checked NO to box A (because no post-secondary planning has occurred: Assist the student in post-secondary education plans. Steps including helping the child identify colleges, vocational programs, or other post-secondary opportunities, and helping the child identify necessary first steps (visiting campuses, filling in applications, signing up for entrance exams and preparatory courses). If you checked NO to box B (because child needs information about financial resources): Assist the student in identifying and accessing necessary financial resources. Possible sources include the Chafee program, college scholarships, remaining in care under a board extension until age 21, completing the FAFSA application and identifying him/herself as financially independent to obtain full funding. Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on

9 6. SPECIAL EDUCATION ELIGIBILITY If you checked any of the boxes in this section, the child should be referred for an evaluation for special education services: Request that the child s parent, foster parent, surrogate parent, or education guardian ask the school district for a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Permission to Evaluate Form, sign it, and return it to the school district; or If the school district can t locate the parents after making reasonable efforts, or the birth or adoptive parents rights are terminated, ensure that the judge appoints someone to request an initial evaluation. The judge can appoint the caseworker to make this request. For more information on this process, see The Right to Special Education in Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents at Except, if you checked box C (child demonstrates serious discipline problems), Consider whether the child may need behavioral health services instead of or in addition to special education services. Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 7. ADEQUACY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES If you checked Box A or B (because child may needed supports or a transition plan): Request that a parent, foster parent, surrogate parent or education guardian convene an IEP Team meeting to address the child s lack of progress, to ensure that the child is in the least restrictive environment, or to develop a transition plan for the IEP. When developing a transition plan, consider whether the child might benefit from a vocational program or an Area Vocational Technical School (AVTS), and whether an outside agency, such as the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) should be invited to the meeting.

10 If you checked Box C (because child needs new evaluation): Request that a parent, foster parent, surrogate parent or education guardian request a re-evaluation, and, if necessary, an independent evaluation. The agency may also decide to provide an independent evaluation. For more information on this process, see The Right to Special Education in Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents at Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 8. NEED FOR A SPECIAL EDUCATION DECISION-MAKER If you checked this box: Work to engage the parent as the decision maker. If engaging the parent is not possible, identify an individual to recommend as the surrogate parent or education guardian to the court or school. Request that either the school or the court appoint the decision-maker. Request that the school district appoint a surrogate parent within 30 days if (1) the school, after reasonable efforts, can t locate a parent; (2) no foster parent can be fill this role; or (3) the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth. Request that a family court judge appoint a surrogate parent or education guardian if the child needs one and the school has not appointed one. (A family or juvenile court judge can appoint a surrogate parent for children living in congregate care, and can appoint an education guardian whenever doing so is in the child s best interest.) For more information, see Guide to the Special Education Decision-making for Children in Out-of-Home Care at ACTION TAKEN:

11 Caseworker will recommend the following individual to the (circle one) court/school. A caseworker cannot be the special education decision-maker. Relationship to the child: Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on 9. CHILD SHOULD BE REFERRED FOR ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A DISABILITY OR HEALTH CONDITION If you checked this box: Contact the school to arrange for a meeting to develop an accommodations plan also known as a 504 Plan or service agreement. Caseworker unable to resolve issue. Referred to Education Liaison on

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