Supports for Students with Unique Needs as School Re-Open
May 26, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on an extreme amount of hardship for foster youth in school. After adjusting to online learning and/or hybrid models for the past year, foster youth are adjusting again to various levels of in-person or hybrid learning. All of these changes have affected the way that students learn. To transition into a hybrid or in-person model, students have had to readjust for the second time in the past year. The Child Welfare Policy Roundtable c0-hosted by the Assembly Select Committee of Foster Care and Children Now, addressed concerns with returning to in-person learning and the support that foster youth will need. Several bills have been introduced to address learning loss and education instability that students have experienced.
AB 775, Public Postsecondary Education: Basic Needs of Students: would require each campus of the California Community Colleges, no later than July 1, 2022, to establish the position of Basic Needs Coordinator and designate a staff person as the Basic Needs Coordinator. The bill would require a basic needs coordinator to act as a broker in identifying, supporting, and linking students to on- and off-campus housing, food, mental health, and other basic needs services and resources, among other responsibilities.
AB 967, COVID-19 Emergency Special Education Services and Voluntary Alternative Dispute Resolution: would require the State Board of Education to continuously monitor and review all special education programs to ensure that all funds appropriated to special education local plan areas are expended for the purposes intended, as provided.
SB 532, High School Coursework and Graduation Requirements: Exemptions: would mitigate a permanent, post-pandemic departure from school for California’s highly mobile students (in foster care, homeless child or youth, a former juvenile court school, military family, or a migratory child or newcomer). This bill clarifies the education code to require schools and school districts to inform highly mobile students of their right to remain in school for a 5th year, to exempt qualified pupils from local graduation requirements when requested, and extend the state requirements into the fifth year at their school of origin as applicable. Additionally, this bill streamlines a student’s ability to opt into these options if they are a highly mobile student attending school as unaccompanied youth.
SB 699, School Climate: California Healthy Kids Survey: would require the State Department of Education to make available the California Healthy Kids Survey, provide technical assistance to local educational agencies, develop a list of approved alternative school climate survey tools; and collect and analyze data regarding local and statewide pupil health risks and behaviors, school connectedness, pupil supports, and school violence. The bill would require each local educational agency to annually administer the California Healthy Kids Survey or an alternative school climate survey that includes a subset of questions from the California Healthy Kids Survey, consistent with the statewide school climate indicator adopted by the state board. By imposing additional obligations on local educational agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
By LaNaya Blackwell, Policy Assistant, California Alliance of Caregivers