Education Legislation For Foster Youth


California EC §48853.5

Topic: Education Rights for Foster Youth

AB 490 (effective 2004): Landmark California legislation for the education of children and youth in foster care.

Key Provisions
  • Immediate enrollment in school without necessary records.
  • Right to remain in school of origin for the duration of the school year when placement changes, if in the child’s best interest.
  • Timely transfer of school records within 2 days.
  • Districts must designate a staff person as the Foster Care Education Liaison.
  • No penalties for school absences due to placement changes, court appearances, or related court activities.
  • Requires a comprehensive public school be considered as the first school placement option.
  • Foster youth may remain enrolled in and attend school of origin pending resolution of a dispute.
  • Foster youth cannot be denied enrollment or promotion due to missing textbooks or school fines.
  • Allows for equal access to school and extracurricular programs.

AB 1933 (effective 2011) Amends EC §48853.5

  • Right to continue in the school of origin through the duration of court jurisdiction of the child, and through the end of the school year if the court’s jurisdiction is terminated prior to the end of the school year.
  • School of origin includes matriculation in accordance with the district feeder patterns for transitions between grade levels.

SB 1568 (effective 2013) Amends EC §48853.5

  • Allows high school foster youth to continue in the school of origin through graduation if the jurisdiction of the court is terminated while the foster child is in high school. Does not require a district to provide transportation.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) & Title 1 Part A Amendments

Topic: Education Rights for Foster Youth

ESSA (effective 2016): Federal legislation that creates new Title 1, Part A assurances that will provide ALL children in any stage of foster care proceedings with protections similar to the homeless McKinney-Vento Act.

Key Protections (not an exhaustive list):

School Stability

  • LEAs must make a best interest determination, presuming that staying in the school of origin is in the child’s best interest.
  • Consider student-centered factors related to the child’s best interest, including factors related to the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health, and safety of the child.

School of Origin & Immediate Enrollment

  • School of origin includes: 1) designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools & 2) preschool.
  • Immediate Enrollment is required even if the child has missed application or enrollment deadlines.
  • Schools should have policies to remove barriers for enrollment due to fees, fines, and absences.

Credit Accrual, Full Participation, and College Readiness

  • Remove barriers preventing youth from receiving appropriate credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed.
  • Opportunities to meet the same State academic achievement standards as other children.
  • Assistance from school counselors to advise, prepare and improve readiness for college.
  • Inform Foster Youth of their status as independent students for college financial aid.


  • Ensure foster children have access to district public preschool programs, administered by the districts and access to early intervention programs.
  • Access to Early Intervention services for students with disabilities.


  • LEAs that receive Title I, Part A must include an assurance in their local Title I plans that the LEA will, by December 10, 2016:
    • Collaborate with the state or local child welfare agency to develop and implement clear written procedures governing how transportation to maintain children in foster care in their school of origin when in their best interest will be provided, arrange and funded for the duration of time in foster care.
    • Ensure that children in foster care needing transportation to the school of origin will promptly receive transportation in a cost-effective manner and in accordance with the child welfare agency’s authority to use child welfare funding for school of origin transportation (section 475 (4)(A) of the Social Security Act); and
    • Ensure that, if there are additional costs incurred in providing transportation to maintain children in foster care in their schools of origin, the LEA will provide transportation to the school of origin if:
  • the local child welfare agency agrees to reimburse the LEA for the cost of such transportation;
  • the LEA agrees to pay for the cost of such transportation; OR
  • the LEA and Local Child Welfare agency agree to share the cost of transportation (ESEA 1112 (c)(5)B)).

Court Rules:

Topic: School Changes

Court Rules (effective 2008): Notification of potential school changes

  • Requires the social worker or probation officer to notify the court, the child’s attorney, and the educational representative or surrogate parent, that the proposed placement or change of placement would result in a removal of the child from his/her school of origin.
  • Requires the social worker or probation officer to notify the school district and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) about a potential school change at least 10 days before the change of placement for a student with a disability and an active Individualized Education Program (IEP).

California EC §51225.1

Topic: Graduation Requirements

AB 167 (effective 2010) Legislation to provide graduation requirement exemption for foster youth.

  • Exempts students in foster care from completing Local Educational Agency (LEA) graduation requirements in excess of the state graduation requirements if the student transfers schools (across districts or within district) after the second year of high school (grade 11 or 12), and if the pupil would not reasonably be able to complete the LEA requirements by the end of the fourth year of high school.

AB 216 (effective 2013) Amends EC §51225.1 Extends and clarifies graduation requirement exemption

  • Clarifies that determining whether the student is in their third or fourth year of high school LEA may use either the number of credits earned or length of time of enrollment, whichever will make a student eligible.
  • Student may remain in high school for a fifth year to complete the LEA graduation requirements.
  • Notification to student, education rights holder and social worker within 30 calendar days of transfer of the availability of the exemption, the student’s eligibility, the right to remain for a 5th year, and the potential impact on college admissions and information about transfer opportunities through the community colleges.
  • The student’s education rights holder, or the student (if they are 18) has the authority to decide if the student should accept the graduation requirement exemption.
  • Once a student is found eligible for the graduation requirement exemption it cannot be revoked regardless if court jurisdiction is terminated or the student transfers schools again.

SB 1135 (effective 2013) Amends EC §51225.1 Extends and clarifies graduation requirement exemption

  • Clarifies this code section applies to all foster youth and youth who were in foster care at the time of transfer.
  • Clarifies that LEAs are required to evaluate whether pupils qualify for this exemption within 30 days of their transfer.
  • Clarifies that schools cannot revoke an exemption but may exempt a student previously found not to qualify.

SB 532 (effective 2023) Amends EC §51225.1 Extends and clarifies graduation requirement exemption

  • Adds that students are allowed to remain in school for a fifth year to meet STATE requirements.
  • For students determined to be reasonably able to complete local requirements when first evaluated, requires re-evaluation at the beginning of the next academic year to determine if still on track to graduate and if not, graduationexemption waiver can be considered.
  • For students with significant gaps in school attendance, age may be used as a factor to determine if the student is in the third or fourth year of high school to qualify for the graduation exemption waiver.
  • LEAs must consult with the person holding educational rights for a student and the student regarding graduation options and how exemption may impact student’s post-secondary options or vocational plans.
  • Requires re-evaluation of students within 30 days of request by student or person holding educational rights for student.
  • Applies to students enrolled in Adult Education Programs.
  • Sole discretion of person holding education rights for student or student if 18 whether or not to accept the graduation requirement exemption.
  • LEAs shall report annually the number of students who graduated with an exemption.

California EC §51225.2

Topic: Partial Credits

SB 578 (effective 2012) Legislation to provide partial credits for foster youth.

  • Requires school districts to issue partial credits for coursework satisfactorily completed by foster youth in a prior school if the entire coursework was not completed.
  • Prohibits a school from requiring a foster youth to retake a complete course if a portion of the course was already completed.

SB 532 (effective 2023) Amends EC §51225.2 Partial credits clarification

  • Clarifies that the transferring LEA shall issue the full and partial credits on an official transcript for the student.
  • Credits and grades for each school and LEA are listed separately on the transcript.
  • A complete record of the student’s seat time, including period attendance and days of enrollment.
  • New LEA must transfer the credits and grades onto an official transcript in the same manner.

California EC §48260, 48264.5 & 48204

Topic: School Attendance

AB 2616 (effective 2013) Truancy

  • A pupil shall be classified as truant and reported to the attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school district if absent from school without a valid excuse for:
    • three full days in one school year or
    • tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day on three occasions in a school year or
    • any combination thereof

1573 (effective 2013) amends EC § 48204 School of Origin Residency Requirements for Attendance

  • Deems a foster child who remains in his or her school of origin to have met the residency requirements for school attendance in that school district.

California EC § 48853.5, 48911, 48918.1, 48900, 48900.5 48902, 48915, 47605, 47605.6, 48432.5, 48911.1, 48915.5

Topic: Discipline

AB 1909 (effective 2013) Amends EC §48853.5, 48911 & 48918.1 Legislation to provide notification of potential expulsions to child’s SW/PO and Attorney

    Requires school districts to provide notification to a foster youth’s court-appointed attorney & child welfare agency representative of pending expulsion proceedings or prior to a Manifestation Determination IEP meeting (for students with exceptional needs).

AB 1729 (effective 2013) Amends EC §48900 & 48900.5 Alternatives to suspension or expulsion

  • Authorizes a superintendent of the school district or principal to use alternatives to suspension or expulsion that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the root causes of the pupil’s specific misbehavior.
  • Requires the IEP team, for an individual with exceptional needs, to hold a meeting within 3 days to discuss the behavioral concerns and determine if a functional behavioral assessment and/or behavioral intervention plan are needed to address the behavior.

AB 2537 (effective 2013) Amends EC §48902 & 48915 Notification of law enforcement

  • Authorizes a principal or designee of a school to notify the appropriate law enforcement agencies of certain unlawful acts committed by a student that may result in suspension, expulsion or criminal liability of the student.
  • Deletes the provision making a violation of that reporting requirement an infraction.

AB 420 (effective 2014) Amends EC §48900 Eliminating “disruption” and “willful defiance” as acts subject to discipline

  • Eliminates the authority to suspend a student out of school or in-school in Kindergarten through third grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance”
  • Eliminates the authority to expel a student in Kindergarten-12th grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance”

AB 740 (effective 2023) Amends EC § 47605, 47605.6, 48432.5, 48853.5, 48911, 48911.1, 48915.5, & 48918.1 Notification of suspensions for foster youth

  • Requires a Local Education Agency (LEA) to send a notification to the pupil’s parent or guardian, or, if the pupil is a foster child, the foster child’s educational rights holder, attorney, tribal social worker, or if applicable, county social worker:
    1. Any suspension, including in-school suspensions for more than one class (as required by California Education Code §§ 48911.1(d) and 48911(d)).
    2. Any meeting to determine whether a suspension will be extended until the district’s governing board has made a decision on an expulsion recommendation (as required by California Education Code § 48911(g)).
    3. Any expulsion hearing (as required by California Education Code § 48918.1(a)). Notice should be provided at least 10 calendar days before the date of the hearing.
    4. Any meeting of an Individualized Education Program team to make a manifestation determination decision (as required by California Education Code §48915.5(d)).
    5. Any involuntary transfers (as required by California Education Code § 48432.5(b)). Notice should provide opportunity to request a meeting with the designee of the district superintendent before the transfer.
    6. For charter schools, any plans to involuntarily remove (disenroll, dismiss, transfer, or terminate) a foster child. Notice must be provided no less than 5 schools days before the effective action (as required by California Education Code § 47605(c)).
  • Foster child’s education rights holder, attorney, tribal social worker, or if applicable, county social worker, shall have the same rights as a parent or guardian of a child has to receive a suspension notice, expulsion notice, manifestation determination notice, involuntary transfer notice, and other documents and related information. (California Education Code § 48853.5(d)).

California EC § 66025.9, 90001.5, 89340,89341, 89343,89344, 89345, 89346

Topics: Priority Enrollment, Priority Housing, Support Programs & Financial Aid

AB 194 (effective 2011) EC §66025.9 Priority Enrollment

  • Until January 2017, requires California State Universities and California Community Colleges and requests University of California that administers a priority enrollment system, to grant priority for registration for enrollment to foster youth or former foster youth.

AB 1393 (effective 2011) EC §90001.5 Priority Housing

  • Requests California Community Colleges and requires California State University and University of California campuses to give priority for housing (including year-around) to current and former foster youth.

AB 1567 (effective 2017) amends EC § 89340, 89341, 89342, 89344, 89345, 89346 Support Programs

  • Requires the State Department of Social Services and county welfare departments, in coordination with the California State University and the California Community Colleges, to coordinate with staff of several designated entities, as appropriate, to verify eligibility of foster youth for participation in programs and other benefits.
  • Requires each California Community College campus, upon admission of a foster youth, to notify that student about appropriate campus support programs, financial aid eligibility, and instructions for accessing benefits he/she qualifies for.
  • Requires each California State University campus, upon determination (through FAFSA), that a student enrolled at, or applying to, that campus is a current or former foster youth and is eligible for financial aid, to notify that student about appropriate campus support programs, eligibility for financial aid, and instructions for accessing benefits he/she qualifies for.

California EC § 66025.3, 42921, & 42923

SB 967 (effective 2018) amends EC § 66025.3 Postsecondary Education-Waiver of Mandatory System-wide Tuition and Fees

  • A campus of the University of California or the California State University shall not charge any mandatory system-wide tuition or fees, including enrollment fees, registration fees, differential fees, or incidental fees, to a current or former foster youth, if he or she meets all of the following conditions:
  • Is 25 years of age or younger.
  • Has been in foster care for at least 12 consecutive months after reaching 10 years of age.
  • Meets any of the following:
    1. Is under a current foster care placement order by the juvenile court
    2. Was under a foster care placement order by the juvenile court upon reaching 18 years of age
    3. Was adopted, or entered guardianship, from foster care
  • Completes and submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Maintains a minimum grade point average and meets other conditions necessary for the student to be in good standing at the public postsecondary educational institution in which he or she attends
  • Meets the financial need requirements established for Cal Grant A awards
  • A student shall not have his or her mandatory system-wide tuition or fees waived in excess of the equivalent of attendance in a four-year undergraduate program.
  • The amount of a student’s tuition or fee waiver shall be reduced by any state or federal financial aid
  • An eligible person may receive a waiver for each academic year during which he or she applies for that waiver, but an eligible person may not receive a waiver of tuition or fees for a prior academic year.
  • The waiver of tuition or fees is only available to a person who is determined to be a resident of California.

AB 1809 (effective 2018) Higher Education-Cal Grants

  • Provides alternative deadlines for submitting a complete financial aid application for a student who is a current or former foster youth, who is attending a qualifying institution that offers baccalaureate degrees or is attending a California community college, and has not yet reached 26 years of age as of July 1 of the initial award year
  • Authorizes the renewal of Cal Grant B awards, for a current or former foster youth, for a total of the equivalent of 8 years of full-time attendance in an undergraduate program, provided that minimum financial need continues to exist

SB 860 (effective 2020) amends EC § 42921 & 42923 Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program: postsecondary education financial aid applications

  • Requires the FYSCP to coordinate efforts to ensure, to the extent possible, the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the California Dream Act Application for foster youth pupils who are in grade 12
  • Requires the report to also include the number and percentage of pupils in foster care who successfully complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or California Dream Act Application while in grade 12

California EC § 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1 & 51225.2

AB 379 (effective 2016) Complaint of Noncompliance

  • Allows a student in foster care or one who is homeless to enforce their educational rights through the State’s Uniform Complaint Procedure.
  • Requires these rights to be included in the Annual Notification.

California Family Code § 17552

AB 12 (effective 2012) Transitional Foster Care

  • Extends transitional foster care services to eligible youth between the ages of 18 and 21 to enable them to stay in school and/or obtain employment

California EC § 8482.6, 8483, 8483.1, 8483.95

AB 1567 (effective 2017) Priority in After School Programs

  • Gives first priority enrollment in after-school and before-school programs to pupils who are identified by the program as homeless youth or in foster care.
  • Requires the program to inform the parent or caregiver of the right of homeless children and foster children to receive priority enrollment and how to request priority enrollment.
  • Prohibits charging a fee to a family of a pupil who is identified as homeless or in foster care.

California EC § 42238.01 & 49085

AB 1962 (effective 2018) Local Control Funding Formula: Foster Youth: dependent child of a tribal court

  • Changes the definition of “foster youth” used for state funding and accountability purposes to include a dependent child of a court of an Indian tribe, consortium of tribes, or tribal organization who is the subject of a petition filed in the tribal court in accordance with the tribe’s law, provided the child would also meet one of the descriptions of specified existing law describing when a child may be adjudged a dependent child of the juvenile court.

California EC § 42238.01, 48850, 48853.5, 49069.5, 49085, & 51225.2

AB 1055 (effective 2021) Tribal Pupils and Voluntary Placed Children

  • Deletes the requirement that a dependent tribal child also meet specified state law standards for purposes of the definition of foster youth for purposes of the local control funding formula.
  • Adds children who are subjects of voluntary placement agreements to the definition of foster youth for purposes of the local control funding formula.
  • Extends those educational rights and supports to dependent children in accordance with tribal law, as specified, and children who are the subject of voluntary placement agreements

Disclaimer: Recommendation to consult with legal counsel to determine how this document may apply to your specific facts and circumstances.