Nebraska's Tool Kit for Systems Involved in the Education of Students in Out-of-Home Care

Tool B-1:  Asking the RIght Questions
Nebraska's Systems Checklist to Address the Educational Needs of Students in Out-of-Home Care

Part One: Systems Collaboration
Section B. Asking the Right Questions


The following is a sample of education-related questions and topics which should be explored by child welfare and juvenile justice professionals working with students in out-of-home care. Having the answers to these questions will greatly assist in ensuring the educational needs of court-involved children and youth are addressed. The questions are meant to serve only as a tool to identify, gather and communicate pertinent information related to the student's education to the Juvenile Court Judge and other decision-makers in the case. The extent to which all or only a portion of the questions are explored will vary based on each student's academic needs and circumstances. Woman working on computer at desk while on phone

While statutory law, administrative rules and regulations may address some of the following questions in general terms, it is each school district's policies and procedures that translate into actual practice. Familiarity and discussion with the school as to how its policies, procedures and protocols may relate to a particular child or youth under a specific set of circumstances is recommended as a matter of "best practice" and may greatly assist in advocating for that student and achievement of his or her academic and vocational goals.

Additionally, a series of questions have also been developed to assist Nebraska's judges in ensuring the educational needs of children and youth in out-of-home care are addressed. This technical assistance tool, Asking the Right Questions: Nebraska's Judicial Checklist to Address the Educational Needs of Students in Out-of-Home Care is provided in the Systems Tool Kit – Part One, Tool B-2.

 

School Enrollment/Change in Schools

School Enrollment

  • Is the student enrolled in school?

    If Yes: At which school?
    - In what type of school setting (e.g., public school, alternative school, private school, Interim-Program School, Special Purpose School or other specialized school)?

    If No: Who is authorized to enroll the student in school?
    - What is the expected timeline for the student's enrollment?
    - While the student has been outside of a school setting, what academic services have been provided and by whom?

  • Where is the school the student is currently attending located in relation to the out-of-home placement?
  • How long has the student been attending the current school?
  • Who should the school list as the student's emergency contact?
  • Who should be contacted about school closures and other announcements?
  • Is the student receiving homebound education services or home-schooled?

    If Yes: Who is responsible for providing instruction and education services
    - Are the educational materials being used approved or certified?
    - What is the length and frequency of the instructional sessions?

Change in Schools

  • Has there been any change in the school the student attends as a result of out-of-home placement?

    If Yes: Were efforts made for the student to remain in his or her original school despite the placement?
    - How many times has the student experienced a change in schools as a result of out-of-home placement?

  • What information has been provided to the new school about the student's educational needs and circumstances?
  • Did the out-of-home placement or change in placement result in the student missing any school?

    • If Yes: How many days of school did the student miss?
    - Have any of those absences resulted in a truancy petition being filed?

Education Decision-Making

Parental Rights

  • Has the student's biological or adoptive parents' rights been relinquished or terminated by the Court?
  • Do the student's biological or adoptive parents still retain education decision-making rights?

    If No: Who is responsible for making education decisions on behalf of the student?
    - Who gathers and communicates information about the student's academic history and educational needs?
    - Who monitors the student's academic progress on an ongoing basis?
    - Who can best speak on behalf of the student's academic needs and circumstances?
    - Will the Court or school district be appointing a surrogate parent to make education decisions on behalf of the student?

Education Advocacy

  • Does the student have a responsible adult serving as an education advocate?

    If Yes: Who is this adult?
    - How often does this adult meet with the student?
    - Does this adult attend school meetings on behalf of the student?

    If No: Who ensures the student's academic needs are being met?

Student Mentoring Programs

  • Is the student involved in a mentoring program, such as Team-Mates or Y-Pals?

    If No: Is the student eligible for or interested in having a mentor?
    - How does the student apply for a mentor

General Education

School Attendance

  • Who is responsible for ensuring the student is attending school?
    • Who is the appropriate contact for the school to notify if the student is absent?
  • Has the student been absent from school this year?

    If Yes: How many days of school has the student missed?
    - Were those absences excused or unexcused?
    - What is the reason(s) for the absences?
    - What steps have been taken to address this?

  • Has the student been tardy to school this year?

    If Yes: How many times has the student been tardy?
    - What is the reason(s) for those tardies?
    - What steps have been taken to address this?

  • Has or is the student currently suspended, expelled or excluded from school?

    If Yes: How many times?
    - What is the reason(s) for the suspension, expulsion or exclusion from school?
    - What is the length of the suspension, expulsion or exclusion from school?
    - What education services have been offered to the student during the suspension, expulsion or exclusion from school and by whom?

Grade Level and Academic Performance

  • In which grade is the student currently enrolled in?
  • At what grade level is the student currently performing?
    • Is the student functioning at the appropriate grade level?
    • If not, what education services are being provided to address this?
  • What is the student's current overall grade point average (GPA)?
    • What is the student's GPA in the core classes?
    • If the student's grades are below passing, what efforts are being made to address this?
  • Is the student currently receiving any tutoring or academic support services?
  • Are the student's academic needs being satisfactorily met?

School Transportation

  • How far does the student have to travel to get to school?
  • Are the student's school transportation needs being met?

    If Yes: How is the student getting to and from school?

    If No: What school transportation arrangements are needed?
    - Who is responsible for providing transportation?

  • Who is authorized to pick the student up after school, for appointments or court appearances

School Supplies

  • Does the student have appropriate clothing for school?
  • Does the student have the necessary supplies and equipment for school (e.g., notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, calculator, access to a computer and Internet, etc.)?

    If No: What school supplies and/or equipment are needed?
    - Who is responsible for providing those supplies and equipment?

School Lunches

  • What is the process for setting up a school lunch account for the student?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring there are adequate funds in the account?
  • Is the student eligible for free/reduced cost school lunches?

Student's Talents and Interests

  • What are the student's interests and talents?
  • What efforts are being made to encourage and assist the student in pursuing those interests and talents?

Extracurricular Activities

  • Is the student involved in extracurricular activities?

    If Yes: Which activities is the student involved in?
    - Are efforts being made to allow the student to continue participating in extracurricular activities (e.g., transportation, fees, additional equipment, etc.)?

Summer School

  • Is the student attending summer school?

    If Yes: What is the student's summer class schedule?
    - Who is responsible for paying for summer school?

    If No: Does the student need to be attending summer school?
    - Is the student eligible to attend summer school?
    - Who is responsible for enrolling the student in summer school?

High School Completion

Academic Credits and Graduation Requirements

  • How many academic credits has the student earned to-date?
  • Is the student currently behind on academic credits leading to graduation?

    If Yes: What credit recovery services are being provided to the student to address this?

  • Does the school have any additional requirements the student must meet to graduate?

    If Yes: Has the student met those requirements?

Multiple Pathways to Graduation

  • Is the student currently enrolled or participating in an alternative education program?

    If Yes: What type of program?
    - What is the student's school schedule (e.g., start and end time for classes, number of courses, etc.)?

    If No: Is the student eligible for or in need of an alternative education program?
    - How does the student enroll in this program?

School Re-Integration and Re-Engagement Programs

  • Has the student not been attending school for an extended period of time?

    If Yes: How long has the student been absent from school and under what circumstances?
    - Is the student currently enrolled or participating in a school re-integration or re-engagement program?
    - What type of program?

    If No: Is the student eligible for or in need of a school re-integration or re-engagement program?
    - How does the student enroll in this program?

Other Factors Impacting Education

Physical Health

  • Does the student have any physical issues which impair ability to learn, interact appropriately or attend school?

    If Yes: What is the physical issue?
    - How does it impact the student's education?
    - How is this being addressed?

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

  • Does the student have a mental health diagnosis or related issue which impairs ability to learn, interact appropriately or attend school regularly?

    If Yes: What is the mental health diagnosis or issue?
    - How does it impact the student's education?
    - Is the student in need of or currently receiving mental health counseling or related services?

  • Is the student currently being prescribed any psychotropic medication(s)?

    If Yes: What medication(s) is being prescribed?
    - Has the instructions and need for taking this medication been clearly explained to the student?
    - How will the medication affect the student's academic performance?
    - Does the medication need to be with the student during school?

  • Does the student have a substance abuse problem?

    If Yes: What type of substance abuse?
    - Is the student in need of or currently receiving substance abuse counseling or related services?

Emotional Issues and Peers

  • Does the student have any emotional issues which impair ability to learn, interact appropriately or attend school?

    If Yes: What is the emotional issue?
    - How does it impact the student's education?
    - How is this being addressed?

  • Does the student have a network of friends at school?
  • Does the student have any difficulty interacting with peers at school?

    If Yes: How is this being addressed?

  • Has the student had any problem with bullying?

    If Yes: How is this being addressed?

Behavioral and Disciplinary Problems

  • Does the student have any behavioral or disciplinary problems at school?

    If Yes: What type of problem(s)?
    - How does it impact the student's education?
    - How is this being addressed?

  • Who should the school contact if there is a behavioral or disciplinary problem with the student?

Diverse Student Populations

The following discussion points and questions apply to specific student populations, such as students with disabilities, high ability learners, English Language Learners or students who are parents.

Student Assistance Team (SAT) and 504 Plans

  • If the student has or is suspected of having a physical, mental health or emotional disability which impacts learning, has he or she been evaluated for eligibility and services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act?

    If Yes: What were the results of the 504 Evaluation?

    If No: Has the student, parent or guardian requested a SAT meeting, 504 Evaluation and/or related services?
    - Under what circumstances would the school's Student Assistance Team become involved with the student?

  • Does the student have a current 504 Plan?

    If Yes: Does the student have an education advocate participating on the Student Assistance Team and in 504 Plan reviews?
    - Is the 504 Plan meeting the student's academic needs?

Students with Disabilities and Special Education

  • If the student has or is suspected of having a disability eligible for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), has he or she been evaluated by a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)?

    If Yes: What are the results of the MDT Evaluation?

    If No: Has the student, parent or guardian requested a MDT Evaluation?

  • Does the student have a current Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

    If Yes: Is the student's parent, guardian or surrogate parent for special education decisions participating on the IEP Team?
    - Was the student's parent, guardian or surrogate parent involved in the development of the IEP?
    - Is the IEP meeting the student's academic needs?

High Ability Learners

  • Has the student been identified as a high ability learner?

    If Yes: Is the student currently enrolled in Advance Placement (AP) classes?

    If No: Is the student eligible for Advance Placement (AP) classes?
    - How does the student enroll in AP classes?

English Language Learner (ELL) Students

  • Has the student been identified as an English Language Learner?

    If Yes: Is the student currently enrolled in ELL classes?

    If No: Is the student eligible for or in need of ELL classes?
    - How does the student enroll in ELL classes?

  • Does the school have translators or interpreters available for non-English speaking students and parents?

    If Yes: In which languages?

  • Is the school's Parent/Student Handbook, Student Code of Conduct, School Calendar and other information available in any language other than English?

    If Yes: In which languages?

Student Parents

  • Is the student currently pregnant or on maternity leave from school?

    If Yes: How much school has the student missed as a result of being pregnant or maternity leave?
    - What is the plan for the student to make up missed school work?

  • Does the school have onsite child care for students who are parents?

    If Yes: Is the student using those child care facilities or have other arrangements been made?

Employment and Post-Secondary Education

Career Exploration

  • Has or is the student currently taking any career exploration classes?

    If No: In which grade(s) should the student enroll in those classes?

Employment

  • Is the student currently participating in a work study program through the school?

    If No: Is the student eligible for or interested in a work study program?
    - How does the student enroll in this program?

  • Is the student currently working after school?

    If Yes: What type of job?
    - What is the student's work schedule?

  • Does the student have a summer job?

    If Yes: What type of job?
    - What is the student's summer work schedule?

Post-High School Plans

  • What are the student's plans after high school?
  • Does the student plan to continue his or her education after high school?

    If No: Has the student begun to explore other post-high school options, such as employment opportunities, military service, etc.?

Post-Secondary Education

  • If the student plans to continue his or her education after high school, what field of study or major is he or she interested in pursuing?
  • Is the student currently enrolled in college preparatory classes?
  • Has the student taken the appropriate college entrance exams (SAT, ACT, etc.)?
  • Has or will the student be attending college fairs sponsored by the school?
    • Has or will the student be going on a college visitation day for seniors or other facilitated school visits?
  • Has the student applied to any vocational training programs, colleges or other post-secondary schools yet?
    • Does the student need any assistance with the college application process?
  • Has the student applied for scholarships or other types of financial assistance?
    • Does the student need any assistance with the scholarship and financial aid application process?
    • Is the student eligible for special scholarships or tuition assistance specifically for those involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice system?

Adulthood and Independent Living

Adulthood and Independent Living

  • Has the student reached an age where he or she is eligible for programs and services to prepare for adulthood and independent living through employment and/or post-secondary education?

    If Yes: What programs and services are available?
    - Is the student participating in those programs and services?

  • Does the student have an Independent Living Plan?

    If Yes: Did the student participate in the development of this Plan?
    - Does the Plan include participation in Chafee Independent Living Services?
    - Does the Plan include employment and/or post-secondary education goals and preparation?

  • At what point will the student's housing arrangements for independent living be explored?
    • Is the student eligible for or in need of housing assistance?

 

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