I. Resources

The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care

In 2010, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an Order Establishing the Education Committee (Education Committee) of the Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families (Children’s Commission). The Order was the result of a Texas Action Plan drafted by a team of child welfare experts and designed to study the educational outcomes of Texas children and youth in foster care. The Education Committee, a high-level group of court, education, and child welfare decision-makers, created a collaborative initiative designed to improve educational outcomes of children and youth in the Texas foster care system. The order resulted in over 100 court, education, and child welfare stakeholders coming together over an 18-month period to listen and learn from each other, discuss and debate the issues, and ultimately develop recommendations to improve educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care. Recommendations included changes in legislation, policy, and practice related to:

The recommendations and commentary may be found in the Education Committee’s final report, The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care, found at:

http://texaschildrenscommission.gov/media/1119/thetexasblueprint.pdf

Texas Foster Care and Education Summit, February 2013

In February 2013, over 200 court, child welfare, and education leaders met in Austin at Texas’ first Foster Care and Education Summit and Texas took another step in its long-term initiative to improve how children and youth in its foster care system fare in schools. This step represented a new chapter in the initiative to improve education outcomes of students in foster care by bringing together a large group of multi-disciplinary stakeholders to raise awareness of the need to improve these outcomes and to begin establishing connections among the courts, DFPS, and local school districts. The summit was initially conceived as a recommendation in the Texas Blueprint.

•   Education Issues for Students in Foster Care[38]

•   Education Unplugged[39]

•   Connecting Child Welfare and Education Law[40]

The Texas Blueprint Implementation Task Force

As envisioned by the Supreme Court of Texas, the Education Committee was to be a short-term effort of less than two years. But, as part of its charge, the Court directed the Education Committee to develop a collaborative model to continue systemic improvement of educational outcomes after the submission of the Texas Blueprint. That collaborative model, the Texas Blueprint Implementation Task Force (Task Force), was created by order of the Supreme Court of Texas in December 2012 to ensure implementation of the Texas Blueprint’s recommendations and suggested strategies. In prioritizing the recommendations, three primary issue areas emerged: Data, Training and Resources, and School Stability. The Task Force formed three workgroups based on these issues, identified chairs, and met from July 2013 through December 2014. Many of the workgroup members participated in the Education Committee, attended the summit and, hailing from diverse and multi-disciplinary backgrounds, brought a wealth of professional expertise to their respective workgroup’s efforts at reform and collaboration.

In February 2015, the Task Force assessed progress and presented recommendations for future collaboration in the Texas Blueprint Implementation Task Force Final Report.[41] Going forward, the Children’s Commission approved the Task Force recommendation to create a standing Foster Care and Education Committee to systematically address the intermediate and long term goals of the Texas Blueprint.

Resource Guide for Foster Care Liaisons in School Districts

TEA, DFPS, and the Children’s Commission collaborated on a resource guide for education professionals that has information of use to courts and others involved with CPS cases entitled Foster Care & Student Success: Texas Systems Working Together to Transform Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care,[42] In addition, TEA has additional resources that may be found on the Foster Care and Student Success webpage, listed below.

Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Educational Advocacy Toolkit

In 2015, Texas CASA released the first resource in its Fierce Advocate Series, the Educational Advocacy Toolkit.[43] The toolkit was a deliverable of the Task Force Training and Resources Workgroup and resulted from several months of collaboration across education, child welfare, court, and advocate stakeholder groups. The toolkit addresses a variety of education-related issues and includes tips and resources for CASA volunteers.

Foster Care and Education Data Workgroup Infographic

In November 2015, the Data Workgroup released an infographic prepared by the University of Texas at Austin entitled, Texas Commits to Transform Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care: Findings from the Texas Blueprint Implementation Data Workgroup.[44] The infographic highlights the education outcomes of students in foster care in Texas and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and using data to drive decision-making.

Confidentiality Guide

In April 2017, DFPS, TEA, and the Children’s Commission developed guidance around Information Sharing between Child Welfare and Schools: Maintaining Privacy and Promoting Educational Success.[45] The document provides information about when and how to share child welfare and education information while respecting confidentiality.

Transition Planning

DFPS, TEA, and the Children’s Commission created a Transition Planning Guide for Students in Foster Care Receiving Special Education Services in April 2017.[46] The Guide includes a side by side comparison of the transition planning processes in the special education and child welfare systems, revealing best practices to encourage improved collaboration and outcomes.

Higher Education Information and Resource Guide

In June 2017, DFPS, THECB, Education Reach for Texans, and the Children’s Commission collaborated on the Texas Higher Education Information and Resource Guide for Foster Care Liaisons.[47] Although the guide is designed with the higher education foster care liaison in mind, it is also available as a resource for the legal community to encourage improved postsecondary outcomes for foster care alumni.