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Students in Foster Care

or Out-of-Home Placement


  • As of June 2013, there were 13,345 children and youth in Michigan’s foster care system.
  • Research shows that youth in foster care experience a great number of educational disruptions, challenges and barriers and are at significant risk of dropping out of school.
  • It has been found that students in foster care graduate at relatively low rates and are twice as likely to drop out of school, two to four times more likely to repeat a grade, and three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than students in the care of a parent or guardian.
  • Furthermore, research has shown that children in foster care experience higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems that significantly impact their education compared to peers who have not been involved in the child welfare system. Thus, children in foster care often need more intensive educational and support services to succeed in school.


Educational Rights of

Youth In Foster Care


School Stability

  • All placement changes must take into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and placement proximity to the school in which the student is enrolled.
  • Every child’s case plan must include a documented and descriptive plan for ensuring educational stability.
  • Any time students’ foster care placements change, they may be eligible to stay in the same school if that is in their best interest. See Homeless.


School Placement / Enrollment / Records

  • The child welfare worker and school are both responsible to ensure that all educational records are provided to the new school.
  • A child in foster care must be enrolled within 5 school days of being placed in foster care (DHS Policy FOM 722-2), but when a school change is necessary, the student may be eligible for immediate enrollment without any records transfer (HOMELESS).
  • A school district shall allow the child to enroll in and attend the appropriate grade in the school selected by the Department of Human Services or by a child placing agency without regard to whether or not the child is residing in that school district. (MCL 380.1148)


School Transportation

  • Review the rights of students in temporary situations below and Homeless.
  • In situations where McKinney-Vento does not apply, foster care maintenance payments may cover reasonable transportation to a child’s school (See DHS Policy FOM 722-6).


Early Childhood

  • All foster children ages birth to three must be screened for Early On services and be provided with needed supports.
  • All foster children are eligible for and should be prioritized for enrollment in Early Head Start and Head Start.


Special Education


School Support

  • Payment for services including school tutoring, driver’s education and graduation expenses is available to all children in foster care, contingent on prior authorization of the local DHHS office.

Life Beyond High School

Rights of Students In “Temporary Placements”

Michigan children or youth who are in temporary placements may have special education rights under the federal McKinney-Vento Act and state guidance. Situations that qualify can include:

  • A child goes to live with relatives or friends for awhile.

Note:  Once a student qualifies under McKinney-Vento, they are eligible for the entire school year (except for transportation). For more information, see Homeless.


How to Realize Your Rights




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