In New Jersey, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) can remove children from their parents’ care if it finds evidence of child abuse or neglect. When a child is removed from their home, they most likely will enter the foster care system. Some children are placed with a relative or kin. These new homes are sometimes referred to as resource family homes.
Regardless of where children live when removed from the family home, their education will continue. It may be different from what they have experienced. Education remains a top consideration when a child is placed into the foster care system or with a relative through the courts. Studies show that foster care students often face unique challenges in the school environment. They may have a history of changing schools, disciplinary issues, or learning disabilities. The DCPP aims to give them a stable and conducive learning environment.
Can Children Attend Their Current School in Foster Care?
The DCPP tries to make a child’s transition to out-of-home care as easy as possible. They make a concentrated effort to keep the child in their preplacement school. However, this does not happen in every case.
Sometimes, the DCPP will find that keeping the child in their current school is not in their best interest. They will immediately enroll the student in a school in the foster home’s district. When that happens, the child remains enrolled in their original school district as well. That way, they can attend their original school if they transition back into the family home.
How Does the DCPP Know What School is Best for My Child?
The DCPP does not make the decision on schooling alone. They will consult with the parents, child, school officials, and others to determine what is best for the child. Some factors they consider include:
- Safety: They will determine if the child will be secure both at school and going to and from school.
- Special education: Foster care children may have existing learning or cognitive disabilities and other special learning needs. The DCPP will review the new school’s curriculum to ensure the child can continue to learn according to their capabilities.
- Past school performance: The DCPP will look at the child’s grades, disciplinary actions, missed days, and other factors to determine if the child’s preplacement school is still conducive to their learning abilities. Sometimes, a change in schools is better for the child.
- Child’s personality and social skills: Some foster children are shy or lack the skills to make new friends easily. Others may have difficulty in social settings that preclude them from fitting in easily or joining group activities. Some children simply cannot handle change. These personality traits will be considered when determining the foster child’s school attendance.
- Distance: Children are sometimes placed in a foster home that is far from their current school. The DCPP will review how this may affect the child’s ability to get to and from school easily and participate in extracurricular programs.
- Likelihood of returning home: Sometimes, the DCPP will determine that a child has a good chance of returning to the family home at some point in the near future. They may decide that it is in the child’s best interest to remain at their preplacement school.
What if I Disagree With the DCPP’s Choice of School?
Parents or legal guardians do not always agree that moving the child to another school is in the child’s best interest. In those cases, they can ask the court to review the decision. This request must come within five days of the DCPP’s decision. The child will remain at their current school while the court reviews the case.
Do Foster Care Children Do Well in School?
Every situation is different, but typically, a child in foster care may have less successful educational experiences. Some reasons for this include:
- Mobility: Foster care children often have a history of changing schools or missing school frequently due to the family moving frequently or experiencing homelessness.
- Discipline: Children in foster care are disciplined at school more than their peers.
- Graduation: Foster care students are less likely to graduate from high school.
- Grades: Students in foster care meet state testing standards less than the rate of their peers.
- Continuing Education: Foster care students have substantially lower rates of admission to college or other secondary education institutions.
Not every foster child will have such a negative educational experience, but it is clear that a stable home environment is crucial to learning.
How can I Improve My Chances of Having My Child Return Home?
When a child is removed from a home, the DCPP and the court will begin permanency planning. The goal is to give the child a stable, permanent home, whether with the birth parent, legal guardian, a family member, a foster parent, or someone else. State and federal law limit a child’s time in the foster care system.
Parents who want to reunite with their child must follow a prescribed plan of action that addresses the reasons for the child’s removal. The parents must prove they can give the child a stable, loving, and permanent home life.
When the DCPP removes a child from home, the parent or guardian should consider contacting a local lawyer. This lawyer will review all aspects of the removal. They can help a parent reunite with the child, especially if the child may have been removed erroneously. They can also serve as a liaison between the parents and the DCPP, helping them understand and work with the permanency plan.
Haddonfield DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Assist Parents With DCPP Requirements
Every child deserves a good education. If your child is in out-of-home placement, our Haddonfield DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker will make sure they are safe and receiving the right education. Call us at 856-795-9400 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.