Foster Care and Student Success Newsletter

Texas Education Agency

April 2021

comal isd

Student raising hand, Comal ISD

Greetings from TEA

May is Foster Care Awareness Month! TEA's goal for this month is to spread awareness of the challenges that students in foster care often face at school. Campus staff can do their part by recognizing that students in foster care have likely experienced trauma and by helping those students establish and maintain meaningful connections. Read this testimonial, Responding to Fear with Love, to hear Alicia's story about overcoming trauma and developing trust.

Staff can learn strategies for staying trauma-informed in the remote environment by watching the Project Restore video series. This training can help you address your own emotional needs as well the needs of your students and colleagues. 

Thank you for your continued advocacy and support of students in foster care!


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Foster Care FAQ

This FAQ is now available on our website! Our team has worked with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the Children's Commission, and the TEA legal and PEIMS departments to bring you a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) covering students in foster care. We hope to clear up some of the complexities that can occur when interpreting state and federal laws concerning this student group. 

Click here to view the FAQ

Students in Foster Care Receive Free Pre-K

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All students in or formerly in Texas DFPS Managing Conservatorship qualify for free Pre-K. Caregivers need to provide documentation of foster care status upon enrollment. Caregivers also receive a verification letter from DFPS stating they qualify for this benefit. For students currently in DFPS Managing Conservatorship, the school may accept the verification letter, 2085, or redacted court order. For Texas students no longer in DFPS Managing Conservatorship, an adoption decree or verification letter from DFPS is needed. Caregivers and schools can obtain a verification letter by emailing the DFPS Pre-K verification mailbox:

Students from other state child welfare systems are eligible for free Pre-K only if they are currently in foster care (because they categorically eligible for nutrition benefits). Students who were formerly in the conservatorship of another state do not receive this benefit. See the Foster Care FAQ for more information on this topic.

Students in Foster Care Receive Nutrition Benefits without Application


A student in foster care (regardless of state) is categorically eligible to receive federal school nutrition benefits. Caregivers of students in foster care do not have to complete a separate application for these programs. By directly certifying the foster child, the student’s household application is not subject to verification unless non-foster students are listed on the household application.

USDA, HHSC, USDE tri-agency letter for Chief School Officers outlines the categorical eligibility of students in foster care for free school meals. It includes a sample letter LEAs and schools can utilize to reach students and families who are not receiving this benefit.

PEIMS Foster Care Indicator

Once a student has been identified as in foster care, their PEIMS indicator should be turned on. Reevaluation of the student's foster care status in PEIMS must occur annually. This means that students must continue receiving benefits related to foster care status for the entirety of the school year, regardless of whether the student exited foster care that year. If the school does not receive documentation regarding a student's foster care status in the subsequent year, the indicator code must be turned off. Continue reaching out to caregivers to receive documentation confirming the student is in foster care, such as the 2085 or 2085-E. 

Educational Stability Training Video


Educational stability is critical to the success of students in foster care. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and TEA have released a video training on available resources that will help your LEA provide students educational stability and facilitate their transitions. The goal of this video is to increase awareness of valuable resources available to LEAs and to foster collaboration between LEAs and child welfare agencies, as required by the Every Students Succeed Act (ESSA). 

This video is viewable on the TASB Student Health and Welfare page and the TEA Foster Care and Student Success Information and Resources page.

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Texas Data Report on Students in Foster Care

Released February 2021, this data and trends report is the first of its kind in Texas. It represents over two years of intensive collaborative work, cross-systems data sharing, joint learning, and discussion of key findings about the education outcomes and school experiences of Texas students in foster care. The report is designed to communicate how Texas students in foster care perform and engage in school, to summarize Texas’ collaborative efforts toward strengthening education outcomes for students in foster care, and to highlight key considerations and opportunities for LEAs and other stakeholders moving forward.

You can find the report on the Texas Children's Commission Reports and Resources page. 

Resource Guide Update Coming Soon

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Our team is working with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Children’s Commission to release an updated version of the Foster Care and Student Success Resource Guide.

This version will include new laws, resources, and key updates, PLUS two new chapters covering the Every Student Succeeds Act and Trauma-Informed Education. The updated guide will be featured on our Foster Care & Student Success webpage in the coming months.



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COVID-19 and Other Support

As we near the end of the 20-21 school year, it is important to consider the unique needs of students in foster care. The next school year may bring more school transitions for youth in care, so it is important for staff to be aware of the regulations and considerations for educational stability. See TASB and TEA's Educational Stability Training Video for an overview.

Maintaining positive connections, ensuring educational continuity, expediting enrollment and withdrawals, and streamlining transitions in the event of a school move continue to be paramount during this time. See our COVID-19 FAQ for Students in Foster Care for information on how to ensure students receive the support they need.

At the Highly Mobile and At-Risk webinar on Thursday, April 1st, we outlined a process for analyzing your student data and utilizing it to plan for summer program services and develop progress metrics. For more information, watch the webinar recording or review the presentation on our website.

Resources for Parents and Caregivers

Educators can play a role in equipping parents and caregivers with valuable resources addressing the specific needs of students in foster care. Below are some resources that can be shared:

Childhood Traumatic Experiences

For students who have experienced trauma, building resilient relationships can be challenging. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has listed free resources to help caregivers and professionals understand and address childhood traumatic experiences and approach relationship building from a different perspective. 

Young Adults

Youth in care who are graduating high school and transitioning to adulthood have a variety of resources and support available to them.  

Foster youth pursuing higher education receive a tuition and fees waiver and living support. See the DFPS College Resource Chart for an overview of programs.

  • Students who were in foster care are eligible to have college tuition and fees waived at Texas state-supported colleges or universities, medical schools, dental schools, junior colleges, and technical institutes. Visit the DFPS State College Tuition Waiver webpage for more information.
  • The Texas Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program is a federally funded program designed to assist with the education and training needs of students in or formerly in DFPS Managing Conservatorship. Students can receive up to $5,000 a year to attend college or vocational programs. 

Career Opportunities

The Division of Special Populations has two incredible employment opportunities on the Highly Mobile & At-Risk Students team. Both roles will help with the division’s mission of equipping school systems to increase awareness, promote equitable access, and improve outcomes for all special populations.

Highly Mobile & At-Risk State Coordinator (new role)

The Highly Mobile & At-Risk State (HM&AR) State Coordinator will be a transformative leader that performs highly advanced consultative services and technical assistance work for HM&AR student groups.

The State Coordinator will lead and provide programmatic and technical assistance to agency staff, Education Service Center (ESC) staff, Local Education Agency (LEA) staff, school personnel, and other stakeholders that serve and support HM&AR students including students in foster care, dropout prevention and other highly mobile, at-risk groups.

Apply Here 

Project AWARE State Coordinator

The Project AWARE State Coordinator serves as the lead at TEA for the Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) Texas grant. Project AWARE is a five-year federal grant to TEA from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) that provides mental health services and supports in three Education Service Centers (ESCs) and five school districts through multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). The project places mental health professionals in ESCs and schools to implement evidence-based practices and to lead planning and service delivery.

The Project AWARE State Coordinator works with a variety of partners and stakeholders to provide leadership for AWARE Texas, including producing statewide resources and tools; co-coordinating activities with the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC); managing grant and contract processes and deliverables; coordinating professional development; building statewide capacity; policy coordination; data collection, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement.

Apply Here

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