ST. PAUL, Minn. – Monday afternoon, on a bipartisan vote of 125-2, the Minnesota House approved HF 1883, a bill authored by Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL – Eden Prairie) requiring students in foster care to be enrolled in a new school within seven school days of a new out-of-home placement. The student may remain enrolled in their school of origin even if their foster home is in another district if that is in the child’s best interest.
“We know all too well the long-term effects that trauma and disruption can have on children. This bill seeks to minimize the length of time students are spending away from school at a time when their home life is anything but certain,” said Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn. “Coming together to improve the lives of our brave and resilient but also most vulnerable children is one of the most important things we can do.”
The legislation also requires the Department of Human Services to include information on these placements to be included in a broader annual report on child maltreatment and on children in out-of-home placements. Missing school can cause academic difficulties for foster children, and has been linked to delayed or lower rates of graduation.
According to DHS’s most recent data, about 16,600 children and young adults experienced out-of-home care in 2017. On any given day, approximately 10,000 children are in out-of-home placement in Minnesota.
The Senate version of the legislation, SF 1873, awaits action by the Senate E-12 Education Finance and Policy Committee.