Skip to main content
Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know

Education of Children in Foster Care

On this page...

In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), and is an education law creating provisions for children in foster care. These provisions took effect on December 10, 2016 and complement those in the Fostering Connections Act and require SEAs and LEAs to work with child welfare agencies to ensure the educational stability of children in foster care.

2022-23 School District Foster Care Point of Contact List

Federal Law and Iowa Code

Federal Law - Health and Human Services

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) - Improving Outcomes for Children in Foster Care (PL 110-351/HR 6893). This is the text in its entirety, to view the educational stability portion, refer to Title II--Section 204 Educational Stability.

Federal Law - Education

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 2015 (PL 114-95) - Full text.

US Department of Education Foster Care Site

Iowa Code

In 2009, the Iowa Code was updated to include specific areas to address educational responsibilities of districts in educating children and youth in foster/out-of-home care.

The following links access specific sections of the Iowa Code pertaining to districts compliance with Foster Connections Legislation:

Decision-Making for Children with Disabilities in Foster Care - This document, jointly issued by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Human Services, explains who may act as a parent, for purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for children who are in foster care. It clarifies the role of established parents, foster parents, guardians, DHS employees, and surrogate parents.

Every Student Succeeds Act

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released joint guidance to states, school districts and child welfare agencies on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children/youth in foster care. The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the law, and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies across the nation for the well-being of children in foster care.

Guidance for Iowa School Districts

Best Interest Determination Conversation/Worksheet (2017-08-23)

ESSA Foster Care Manual - Iowa Guidance (2018-08-23)

ESSA Foster Care Transportation Reimbursement Form 2023-24

ESSA Foster Care Overview (webcast) (2017-03-01)

ESSA Foster Care Memorandum of Agreement (2018-08-16)

Letter to the Field POC Regarding ESSA Foster Care Provisions (2018-10-01)

POC Flowchart (2017-08-23)

Point of Contact Overview (2017-02-15)

School Transportation Decision Matrix (2017-08-23)

What DHS Workers Need to Know About ESSA (2017-02-15)

LEA POCs can also access the Foster Care Google Folder

Iowa Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Contacts

Region Name Phone
Statewide Doug Wolfe 515-377-0335
Cedar Rapids Area Kristi Tisl 319-892-6710
Des Moines Area Amanda Marshall 515-725-2724
Eastern Iowa Amy Huntington 563-326-8794 ext. 3329
Northern Iowa Jesse Behrends 319-291-2441
Northern Iowa Ryan Meester 641-858-5402
Western Iowa (Southern) Nosimilo Dube 712-328-5719
Western Iowa (Northern) Diane Foss 712-255-2913 ext. 2107

Links & Resources

Educational Stability

Information/Data Sharing (FERPA, USA)

Special Education

Supportive School Discipline & Prevention Efforts

Legal Center for Foster Care and Education - Serves as a national technical assistance resource and information clearinghouse on legal and policy matters affecting the education of children in the foster care system. The Legal Center FCE provides expertise to states and constituents, facilitates networking to advance promising practices and reforms, and provides technical assistance and training to respond to the ever-growing demands for legal support and guidance.

AMP Iowa - A youth-driven, statewide group that seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive children in Iowa. AMP offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance. AMP also provides the life skills youth need to become self-sufficient, independent adults. The Department of Human Services partners with Youth and Shelter Services, in Ames, IA to support AMP local councils across Iowa.

Education Law Center: Students in Foster Care Resources - Information and tools to help educators and administrators understand the issues of students in the foster care system and to identify interventions that can make a difference helping youth in care succeed in school.

Foster Care Transition Toolkit - Includes tips and resources intended to help foster care youth access and navigate social, emotional and educational skills barriers as they transition into adulthood.

Iowa Children's Justice Initiative - Dedicated to improving the lives and future prospects of children who pass through Iowa's dependency courts.

Funding - Foster Care Claims

General Education Foster Care Claim

School districts may submit a claim to request additional funding for regular education students living in foster care homes or facilities who are enrolled in the district and are only in the district because of their foster care placement. The claim is a data collection located in the Iowa Education Portal. The Foster Care Claim application is located in the Iowa Education Portal. The claim is generated from the fall and spring Student Reporting in Iowa collection (SRI) submissions. The claim must be certified each year by August 1. For more information about the foster care claim process, for regular education students, contact Scott Dryer at 515-402-8700.

Special Education Foster Care Claim

Special education foster care claims are submitted through the Tuition-In Billing application located in the Iowa Education Portal.

Claims for students whose parental rights have not been terminated must be submitted to the student’s resident district by July 15. Claims for students whose parental rights have been terminated must be submitted to the state for reimbursement by August 1. For assistance with the foster care claim process for special education students, contact Luke Markway at 515-393-8349.