Rep. Brenda Lawrence has passed an amendment requiring the U.S. Secretary of Education to track the educational progress of foster youth in America, a key measure that will protect hundreds of thousands of foster care students across America.
The congresswoman’s amendment was introduced as part of the Student Success Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind. ESEA was previously reauthorized in 2002. Though there are provisions within the ESEA that Rep. Lawrence opposes, and will continue to work to address, her amendment is a positive step forward in ensuring that our foster youth are included in the tracking of all students’ educational progress.
“One of my core areas of concern and commitment is the continuing fight for the benefit of American public school children, particularly those who come from less affluent communities,” Rep. Lawrence said. “That is why I was so proud — as a parent, as a grandparent, and as a former school board member — to see my amendment included in the ESEA Reauthorization, which has been signed into law by President Obama.”
As a Democrat, Rep. Lawrence’s amendment was one of only a handful offered by the minority party that achieved support from the Republican-led chamber. The amendment requires the U.S. Secretary of Education to reject any state plan that fails to provide separate academic assessment reporting of foster care children. In 2010, there were 408,425 children placed in foster care in America, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
The amendment will also benefit organizations dedicated to ensuring foster children receive the care and attention they deserve, said Lilla Weinberger, Executive Director of the National Foster Youth Institute.
“Thanks to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence for ensuring that every state will be tracking the educational progress of its foster youth. These are our children, and we must make sure that they have every chance to succeed,” Weinberger said.
Rep. Lawrence’s amendment to the ESEA was the first piece of legislation that she introduced as a freshman member of the 114th Congress and it is the third amendment she has passed this year.
“Foster care school-aged children deserve the same access to a quality education as everyone else. Unfortunately, and through no fault of their own, they often struggle to keep up in their studies due to a lack of a traditional home environment,” Rep. Lawrence added. “Under my amendment, foster care children will benefit from a watchful eye placed on the educational institution that serves them and we in the federal government will do whatever we can to ensure our education system does not fail them.”