Education of Students Served by Pennsylvania County Children and Youth Agencies

The Pennsylvania (PA) Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) oversees County Children and Youth Agencies (CCYAs). CCYA staff and contracted private providers are responsible to make certain that the educational needs of the children and youth that they serve are met by collaborating with schools, children, youth, and families to:

  • Ensure school enrollment and attendance for children of compulsory school age (6-18);
  • Ensure access to education for all eligible children (including those 0-5 and 18-21);
  • Maintain updated school records in a family/child's case record;
  • Address concerns related to truancy and habitual truancy;
  • Assess educational strengths and needs;
  • Arrange and/or advocate for services to address educational needs such as tutoring, special education, language services, gifted services, or credit recovery;
  • Participate in planning for the transition to adulthood with youth and young adults to include education and career goal setting;
  • Provide guidance about and assistance accessing higher education and career opportunities (see more below); and
  • Promote educational stability of children in foster care (see more below).

Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care

Provisions for students in foster care under The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) and The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) (P.L. 114-95) require CCYAs and schools to collaborate to ensure school stability for students in foster care. Key factors for school stability are listed below.

School Stability

A positive, stable school experience provides structure and nurtures students to learn and grow. With fewer school disruptions, students in foster care can be provided with a familiar setting for learning, remain connected to school peers and supports, are more likely to access appropriate coursework, and remain on a path to achieve a high school diploma and college and career readiness.

Best Interest Determinations

When students enter or change foster care placement, students are presumed to remain in their current educational setting unless a collaborative best interest determination (BID) among parties produces an alternative decision. A collaborative BID must take place each time school placement may be impacted due to entry or change in foster care placement. BIDs are child-centered and do not consider costs.

Immediate Enrollment

If determined to be in a student's best interest to enroll into a new school, the school of origin, placing child welfare agency, and the enrolling school must collaborate to ensure that the student is immediately enrolled in their new school. Enrollment must not be denied or delayed if documents normally required for enrollment are not provided.


Students who enter foster care or who change foster care placements are entitled to receive transportation when transportation is needed to remain in their school of origin. School and child welfare partners must work together to implement clear procedures to ensure that transportation is provided, arranged, and funded in order to ensure educational stability.

Data Sharing

ESSA includes provisions which require the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to collect and report data regarding the academic achievement and graduation rates of children and youth in foster care. OCYF collaborates with PDE to make data collection and reporting possible while maintaining the confidentiality of children and youth.

Uninterrupted Scholars Act

In 2013, the Federal Uninterrupted Scholars Act amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to authorize a child welfare agency caseworker or other representative of a state or local child welfare agency to have access to certain student's educational records without having to obtain parental consent or a court order. This exception applies to children and youth for whom a CCYA has legal custody and whom are placed in out-of-home care.

Access to Higher Education

Youth and young adults in foster care or formerly in foster care who seek post-secondary education may be eligible for financial assistance through the Chafee Employment and Training Grant and the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver. Both programs are administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). For more information please visit:

More Information

To find an appropriate contact for questions related to the education of children served by CCYAs visit the Foster Care and Education Point of Contact Directory.

General information on education is also available from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.