(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Jack Conners and Herb Conaway, M.D., sponsored to ensure New Jersey foster children receive a stable education has been signed into law by the governor.
The law (A-2137) revises state policy that automatically placed a foster child in the school district of their foster family. Instead, the law allows a child to remain in their current school if they’re moved to a different foster family.
The law also puts New Jersey in compliance with federal law and ensures the state doesn’t risk losing about $125 million in federal aid.
“This will establish a system to support educational stability for children placed in foster care,” said Conners (D-Burlington/Camden). “We know that foster children can often be uprooted from their schools and suddenly placed in new environments, which can be difficult for anyone let alone a child. It’s hard enough for a child placed in foster care, so a simple step like this can provide some stability with that all important tool for their future – education.”
“Moving from school to school can be stressful for any child, but especially so for children in foster care,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “With this law, we keep children with their friends, classmates and teachers and provide some stability amid a difficult situation. That will be healthy for them both academically and psychologically.”
Conaway and Conners also lauded the law for shifting financial responsibility for foster education back to the child’s sending district.
Under former law, towns receiving foster children were responsible for paying for the education of foster children, causing a hardship for taxpayers in towns like Willingboro in the 7th Legislative District, which takes in many more foster children than it loses to other towns.
“When citizens open their homes to foster children, their goal is to provide a safer and healthier living environment for a child in need,” Conners said. “This law allows communities to continue to embrace foster children without overburdening local taxpayers.”
Under the law, even if the determination is made that a child should be educated in the new community’s local schools, the child’s district of origin must reimburse the new district.