by David Sharp
The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) joined in a letter of support for the A Plus Act, also referred to as the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S. 3472 and H.R. 5871). The legislation amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to enable child welfare agencies to access the educational records of children in foster care to help improve their educational success. The agency may disclose the records to other parties with a court order.
FERPA, originally created to protect the confidentiality of education records, has been a barrier to child welfare agencies, as well as foster parents even when educational agencies are willing to collaborate in the exchange of information. Bipartisan sponsors in the Senate are Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Al Franken (D-MN). The House lead sponsors are Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).
This bill was passed by Congress on January 1, 2013, but was not enacted before the end of its Congressional session, however was signed into law by President Obama this week! While this bill will be a big WIN for children and their agencies, it does fall short of giving the most important stakeholders, i.e., foster parents, access to their dependent children's school records.
NFPA will continue to work with congress to amend this bill to include all stakeholders in a child's life.
David Sharp is the Public Policy chair for NFPA.