Who Can Enroll a Foster Student?

A student may be enrolled by either a representative from Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) or Child Protective Services (CPS); OR an individual from the student’s foster placement, such as a foster parent or representative of the shelter.

Forms and Court Documents Needed to Enroll the Student 

  1. Proof of legal authority to enroll student;
    • Either DFPS Form 2085 (in any form); OR a court order naming a DFPS Temporary Managing Conservator (TMC) or a Permanent Managing Conservator (PMC);
    • These forms are protected under FERPA and must be stored securely.
      • One copy of Form 2085 should be placed in the student’s cumulative folder and the campus PEIMS clerk should retain a second copy.
      • Student must be coded with an at-risk indicator in PEIMS. Also, T.E.C. 7.029(b-1) requires districts to report a foster care indicator through PEIMS.
  2. Certified copy of student’s birth certificate or other proof of identity (allow 90 days for children not born in the United States);
  3. Student’s immunization records (student may be enrolled provisionally, even if he or she has not had the necessary immunizations); and 
  4. Student’s records from school most recently attended. 
  5. If the student is under 11, the name of each previous school attended by student and the records from those schools must be provided. 
  6. Students may either continue attending their current school or school in that feeder pattern, or enroll in the school in the attendance zone of their placement. If the student is to be enrolled based on location of his/her placement, standard proof of residency is required (lease, utility bill, or other document allowed by campus).

NOTE: If a student is involved with CPS, but not in conservatorship or substitute care, or is awaiting foster placement, the McKinney Vento Act applies.

Immediate Enrollment 

  • The student should be enrolled immediately, any time of day, even if the student does not have all of the necessary paperwork. While it is requested that foster parents, placement agencies, and other residential facilities call ahead for enrollment, this is not required. 
  • If required forms and records are not received 30 days after student is enrolled, district shall notify the police department and request a determination of whether the child has been reported missing.

Enrollment Process for Foster or Shelter Students in Secondary Schools (AISD Only)

Determining if a student requires specialized attention  

  • Registrar should notify counselor/administrator if the student falls into the category of a High Alert student, requiring special efforts to ensure proper placement, support services, and safety plans.
  • Considerations for determining if a student is considered High Alert: criminal record, history of violence, discipline records, safety concerns for student or other students, psychological issues and/or medical issues, sexual acting out behaviors or residential placements of concern.
  • NOTE: Only the counselor, School-Community Liaison, or administrator can make the determination that a student is a High Alert student.

Process for students requiring specialized attention (High Alert students) (AISD Only)

Day 1 or Day 2

  1. Shelter or foster care representative contacts Principal’s designee with information about the student, as well as any issues or concerns. If there are alerts from AISD police, the principal should be notified.
  2. Principal’s designee assesses the paperwork and gathers any other necessary information. 
  3. Registrar goes through enrollment procedure of gathering records and information to register the student, including collaborating with PEIMS clerk to check the student’s enrollment status.
  • If the student is homeless, Project Help should be notified at (512) 414-0760. Under the McKinney Vento Act, homeless unaccompanied youth, such as students enrolling from shelters, can enroll themselves without an adult and can sign the paperwork. If clarification is needed, contact the student’s shelter or previous placement. 
  • If student is under a removal order from another district, administration may honor, revise, or ignore the removal order. 
  • If student is under an expulsion order from another district, administration needs to consult with the Student Discipline Coordinator to discuss options for placement.

Day 2 or Day 3

  1. Principal’s designee contacts individuals who may have useful information regarding the student including: special education team leader or ARD, former teachers, child study team for interventions and placements, central officer personnel or general counsel for consultation, and other stakeholders for placement discussions.
  2. Student and social worker/guardian meet with registrar and complete registration packet with available records.
    • If no records, transcripts, or schedules are provided, student will be enrolled in 9th grade until the records arrive.
    • Student must be withdrawn from previous school before enrolling.
    • Registrar will check forms for completeness and signatures, mark checklist for gathering information, request records and other information needed to register student, and collaborate with PEIMS clerk to determine student’s previous enrollment status and verify residence or transfer approval.
    • Registrar will notify the counselor/administrator if the student falls in High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs).
    • Registrar will provide counselor with a copy of all educational records for advisement, guidance, and selection of courses.
    • Registrar will determine grade placement and contact the last school attended if the student does not present current school records to get verbal confirmation of credits, placements, or request records and withdraw form.
    • If a student’s primary language is not English, the registrar will contact the International Welcome Center (IWC) (414-6426) on behalf of the student and refer the student to IWC for assessment.
    • NOTE: Student shall be scheduled for classes on the same day as the student is enrolled. Delay in enrollment should be a rare occurrence and with parent/guardian notification.
  3. Student meets with school staff members.
    • Student is assessed by nurse who notifies appropriate campus staff of concerns, if any;
    • School counselor meets with student and guardian, checks for any extenuating circumstances or special services previously provided to the student, assesses placement and schedules for classes, and begins any necessary intervention services plan; and
      • Counselor will notify administrator if a student falls in a High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs)
      • If documentation indicates that the student has a disability that qualifies him/her for protection under 504, the campus 504 coordinator should be contacted to meet with the family or a meeting time should be set.
    • Communities in Schools (CIS) as well as any other applicable agency referrals are made if appropriate.
    • If the student is homeless, counselor will interview the family to determine if they meet the requirements under the McKinney Vento Act rules for homeless services. If the student qualifies, counselor will sign the Student Residency Questionnaire to certify homeless status and immediately have the form faxed to the Project Help office, (512) 471-0761.
      • Project Help will notify food services via email at cathy.benitez@austinisd.org and provide the name, ID number, and the foster student’s guardian’s name along with the name and title of the person sending the email.
      • NOTE: Student shall receive a free lunch on the first day even if Project Help has not had sufficient time to contact food services.

NOTE: The enrollment process should NOT exceed three days.

Process for students NOT requiring specialized attention

  1. At least two hours prior to enrollment, guardian, shelter or foster care should contact Principal’s designee with student information, date and time of arrival, and any available records.
    • NOTE: Student must be enrolled even if this step is not taken.
    • If the student is homeless, Project Help should be notified at (512) 414-0760. Under the McKinney Vento Act, homeless unaccompanied youth, such as students enrolling from shelters, can enroll themselves without an adult and can sign the paperwork. If clarification is needed, contact the student’s shelter or previous placement
  2. Student and social worker/guardian meet with registrar and complete registration packet with available records.
    • If no records, transcripts, or schedules are provided, student will be enrolled in 9th grade until the records arrive. 
    • Student must be withdrawn from previous school before enrolling.  
    • Registrar will check forms for completeness and signatures, mark checklist for gathering information, request records and other information needed to register student, and collaborate with PEIMS clerk to determine student’s previous enrollment status and verify residence or transfer approval. 
    • Registrar will notify the counselor/administrator if the student falls in High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs). 
    • Registrar will provide counselor with a copy of all educational records for advisement, guidance, and selection of courses. 
    • Registrar will determine grade placement and contact the last school attended if the student does not present current school records to get verbal confirmation of credits, placements, or request records and withdraw form. 
    • If a student’s primary language is not English, the registrar will contact the International Welcome Center (IWC) (414-6426) on behalf of the student and refer the student to IWC for assessment. 
      • NOTE: Student shall be scheduled for classes on the same day as the student is enrolled. Delay in enrollment should be a rare occurrence and with parent/guardian notification
  3. Designee accesses student’s paperwork and notifies any individuals that need to be notified, including nurse, Impact Chair or Assistant Principal, Special Education team leader, and/or the student’s teachers.
  4. Student meets with school staff members.
    • Student is assessed by nurse who notifies appropriate campus staff of concerns, if any;
    • School counselor meets with student and guardian, checks for any extenuating circumstances or special services previously provided to the student, assesses placement and schedules for classes, and begins any necessary intervention services plan; and
      • Counselor will notify administrator if a student falls in a High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs)
      • If documentation indicates that the student has a disability that qualifies him/her for protection under 504, the campus 504 coordinator should be contacted to meet with the family or a meeting time should be set.
    • Communities in Schools (CIS) as well as any other applicable agency referrals are made, if appropriate.
    • If the student is homeless, counselor will interview the family to determine if they meet the requirements under the McKinney Vento Act rules for homeless services. If the student qualifies, counselor will sign the Student Residency Questionnaire to certify homeless status and immediately have the form faxed to the Project Help office, (512) 471-0761.
      • Project Help will notify food services via email at cathy.benitez@austinisd.org and provide the name, ID number, and the foster student’s guardian’s name along with the name and title of the person sending the email.
      • NOTE: Student shall receive a free lunch on the first day even if Project Help has not had sufficient time to contact food services.
      • For resources or support in working with homeless or shelter students, contact the Project Help office at (512) 414-0760.
    • NOTE: Foster students are categorically eligible for free meals in the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. All that is required for eligibility is DFPS form 2085. The campus’s food service department should be notified promptly of student’s enrollment. In addition, an email should be sent to Austin ISD’s food service department at cathy.benitez@austinisd.org. In the email, the name, ID number, and the foster student’s guardian’s name along with the name and title of the person sending the email should be provided.

Obtaining Records from Student’s Prior School 

  • Student records must be transferred no later than 10 working days after the student enrolls in another school.
  • If necessary, contact the foster care liaison in the district the student attended for assistance. See the TEA website for list of liaisons.  

Documents and IDs Required to Access Student and Student’s Records

  • The student’s attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem (including CASA representatives) may contact the school regarding the student’s educational status and needs. These individuals must have a court order or notification letter of assignment. The attorney ad litem is entitled to records related to the student, including school records, without a further order or release.
  • A student’s caseworker may access any educational records a parent could access for a student in DFPS conservatorship. To obtain the files, the caseworker only needs to provide the school with a badge showing employment with CPS.
  • When in doubt, ask to see either the court order or DFPS Form 2085 or contact the student’s caseworker.
  • The Uninterrupted Scholars Act permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose education records of students in foster care to state and county social service agencies or child welfare agencies. 

What to Do When a Student Withdraws

  • Be sure the student’s caseworker or guardian is provided with all of the student’s records, including a transcript, and documentation of any educational services or referrals in place, such as 504 services, special education or gifted and talented. 
  • Ensure the student’s new school receives the student’s record within 10 days of enrollment at the new campus. 

Meeting the Student’s Needs

  • Students in foster care are presented with unique challenges including: separation from family, instability, incomplete or missing records, missed class time, special needs that have not been met, behavioral challenges, and safety concerns. It is important that the student feels welcomed and supported at the campus. 
  • Maintain confidentiality as it is important the student not be labeled as a foster care child and that any related matters be discussed in private. Federal and state laws and policies require that a student’s status of being in DFPS conservatorship be kept confidential, except on a need-to-know basis.
  • Inform the student of safe places to go if the student needs emotional support such as, the counselor’s office, Principal’s office, Assistant Principal’s office, or Communities in Schools’ office.