4302A. Educational Services and Planning: Early Childhood Development, K-12 and Post-Secondary

Original Date: July 28, 2013

Revised Date:  June 9, 2022

Sunset Review Date:  June 30, 2026

Approved by:  Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


Ongoing educational progress is vital to support early childhood development and school success for all children in the care or custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).


Home Schooling is when a child is receiving home-based educational instruction from his or her caregiver. The caregiver providing the home-based instruction is responsible for developing the curriculum being taught to the child, ensuring the annual assessment is administered, maintain necessary records, etc.

Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) is a form of public education that provides instruction in an on-line, remote or site-based setting. The curriculum being used by the instructor is developed, approved and monitored by the school district.

Private School is a non-public school which meets a minimum set of state standards of health, safety, and education established and approved by the Washington State Board of Education. Credits obtained at a private school may not transfer directly to public school.

School of Origin means the school in which a child is enrolled at the time of placement. If a child's placement changes, the school of origin must be considered the school in which they are enrolled in when the placement change occurs.


This policy applies to child welfare employees.


RCW 13.34.045  Education liaison-Identification

RCW 28A.150.510  Transmittal of education records to department of children, youth, and families-Disclosure of educational records-Data-sharing agreements- Comprehensive needs requirement document-Report

RCW 28A.225.010  Attendance mandatory-Age-Exceptions

RCW 28A.225.350  Students in out-of-home care-Best interest determinations

RCW 74.13.550  Child placement-Policy of educational continuity

RCW 74.13.560  Educational Continuity-Protocol development

RCW 74.13.631  School aged youth-school placement options

PL 110-351  Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008


  1. Children who enter out-of-home care or change placements will remain at the school they were attending, whenever it is practical and in the best interest of the child.
  2. All school-aged children in out-of-home placement will attend public school, unless they are court approved for home schooling, private school or to participate in an ALE instruction conducted 100% on-line in the child’s placement setting. Children placed under a Voluntary Placement Agreement only require DCYF approval.
  3. The ongoing educational needs of children in out-of-home care will be addressed with the child and caregiver at each placement. This includes completing and updating the education information on the Child Information and Placement Referral form 15-300 at each placement change.
  4. All school-aged children in out-of-home care will have a completed Education Plan in FamLink that is updated at least every six months and attached to the court report.
    1. The Education Plan will address the child’s physical, emotional, or behavioral needs and any issues that impair his or her learning abilities. The plan should be reviewed at each placement change.
    2. The request and receipt of academic records must be documented in the education plan and attached to the court report.
  5. DCYF will facilitate post-secondary education planning for children in out-of-home care.
  6. All children will be referred for services when a developmental concern is suspected.Refer children:
    1. Birth through two years of age to the appropriate early intervention agency within two working days of the concern being identified.
    2. Three through 17 years of age to the Child Find program or local school district for an assessment.
  7. An Educational Liaison will be identified for children and youth grades six through twelve at shelter care and subsequent dependency review hearings if:
    1. Parental rights have been terminated;
    2. Parents are unavailable because of incarceration or other limitations;
    3. The court has restricted contact between the youth and parents; or
    4. The youth is placed in a behavioral rehabilitative setting and the court has limited the educational rights of the parents.


The caseworker will:

  1. Keep the child enrolled in their school of origin when they enter care or change placement when it is practical and in the best interest of the child while the determination is being made.
  2. Determine the child’s best interest on school related decisions by gathering input on the child’s case plan from relevant and appropriate individuals. This determination should be made prior to placement moves, changing schools, and in coordination with their education team to include, but not limited to, input from the:
    1. Child
    2. Family
    3. Caregivers
    4. School
    5. Guardian Ad Litem
  3. Coordinate with the child's school district to:
    1. Discuss the following prior to a placement move:
      1. The best interest of the child and determine either to:
        1. Keep the child enrolled in the school they are currently attending.
        2. Change schools when it is practical and in the best interest of the child.
      2. Continue providing transportation to the school of origin, when applicable, until a best interest determination has been made.
    2. Confirm the child is enrolled and attending school within three days of an initial out-of-home placement.
    3. Request any missing academic or medical records required for school enrollment within ten business days.
    4. Request updated records and education information as needed when there is a change in schools or change in out-of-home placement and at the end of each school year.
    5. Notify the child's previous and new school when an out-of-home placement change occurs and when the child is returned home by providing the completed School Notification DCYF 09-093 to the schools.
    6. Advocate for appropriate services to meet the child's academic, medical, mental health and social-emotional needs. This includes participating in school meetings such as disciplinary or special education reviews.
    7. Pay any unpaid fees or fines owed by the child to the school or school district.
    8. Notify all legal parties to the case when a school disruption occurs (e.g. discipline, hospitalization, juvenile detention, etc.).
  4. Obtain approval annually and/or when there is a change in caregivers for a child to:
    1. Be home schooled;
    2. Participate in an ALE instruction that is 100% on-line and in the child’s placement setting (excludes group homes with an established school campus); or
    3. Attend a Washington State Board approved private school that does not use corporal punishment. Caseworkers must verify the private school is on the list of Approved Private Schools in Washington State and confirm with the private school that corporal punishment is not included in their discipline policies.
    4. Complete the Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210 and verify the request:
      1. Supports the child’s safety and well-being needs (e.g. developmental, physical and social-emotional);
      2. Promotes inclusion in the caregiver’s home and other events and activities; and
      3. Is consistent with the child’s case plan.
    5. If the request is for home schooling, obtain and attach a copy of the approved declaration from the school stating the caregiver has been approved to home school the child.
    6. Regional Education leads must review the Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210 to:
      1. Review the reasons for the request.
      2. Consult with the caseworker if there are additional interventions or resources that can be explored.
    7. Obtain regional administrator or designee approval on the Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210.
    8. Obtain approval from Director of Field Operations on Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210.
    9. For children in shelter care status or dependent, obtain court approval if approved by Director of Field Operations.
    10. Provide a copy of the approved Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210 and attachments to the Division of Licensing Resources licensor if the child is approved for home schooling and the caregiver is licensed.
  5. If a youth requests to participate in an international study program, obtain:
    1. Parent’s approval if the youth is not legally-free.
    2. Approval outlined in the 6100 Travel policy.
  6. Refer a school-aged child to appropriate programs within two working days after a concern has been identified (e.g. Education Advocacy Program, Graduation Success, school counselor, etc).
  7. If a child qualifies for early child intervention services, collaborate with the local service provider and the child's caregiver to enroll the child in the appropriate services and develop the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).
  8. Provide the child's out-of-home caregiver with copies of necessary school records including IFSP, Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plans.
  9. Monitor the child’s ongoing academic progress including most current grades, state test scores, attendance and credits, when applicable, to make sure the child is prepared to progress to the next grade level and is on track to graduate. If the child is home schooled, review the end of year assessment to determine if academic progress is being made.
  10. Engage child and caregiver in reviewing the child’s progress and planning for academic success.
  11. Provide copies of all education records to foster youth age fifteen through eighteen years prior to the youth turning eighteen years old as defined in the Transition Plan policy.
  12. Involve youth in post-high school planning including options for post-secondary education and career or vocational training. This includes scholarships, financial aid, Education Training Voucher Program, etc.
  13. Document the child’s state student identification (SSID) number, education progress and needs in the FamLink Education Pages. This includes completing and updating the FamLink Education page at least every six months.


Child Information and Placement DCYF 15-300

Administrative Approval Request 05-210 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

School Notification DCYF 09-093


Best Interest Determination Guidance: Best Practices School Selection for Children and Youth in Foster Care

Caseworker’s Guide to Transition Planning (located on the DCYF intranet)

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT)

FamLink Education eLearning (located on the DCYF intranet)

Foster Youth Services

Guide for Supporting Students in Foster Care

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Foster Care Education Program site