At any given time, there are more than 35,000 children in New Mexico who are homeless, in foster care or involved with the juvenile justice system. Young people in our public systems – especially the child welfare and justice systems –are among the most vulnerable and academically underserved student groups in New Mexico.
“System involved students face many barriers that discourage them from completing their education,” says FosterEd: New Mexico Director Grace Spulak. “This law will make sure that these students will be able to get into the classes they need to graduate on time.”
The Federal Government has recently acknowledged the importance of addressing the needs of system involved students in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
SB 213/HB 301 requires that a student who has transferred due to a disruption in the student’s education has priority placement in courses that meet state graduation requirements. The student must also have equal access to participation in extracurricular activities, sports, career and technical programs, and other special programs.
HB 411 will assist in the implementation of ESSA and SB 213/HB 301 by creating a point of contact (POC) for students in foster care or involved with the juvenile justice system, and by requiring the appointment of an “educational decision maker” for all cases involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected. The POC will make sure that system involved students are promptly enrolled when they change schools and that their records and credits are transferred in a timely manner. For students in foster care and for those in juvenile justice, the POC must ensure that the student has the same opportunities, services, and counseling to which they are entitled under state and federal law.
“I’m proud that New Mexico is first in the nation to provide these rights to youth involved in the juvenile justice system,” Rep. Gallegos said. “By creating a point of contact in each district, the state will better fulfill its responsibility to these students, including helping them succeed in school, graduate, and become engaged in their education.”