Data & Information Sharing

why share information?

Sharing information on the education of children in out-of-home care improves their educational outcomes. The information we gather and share across the child welfare, education, and court systems allows us to:
  • provide access to a child’s education information to ensure appropriate services;
  • track trends, deficits, and improvements for children in foster care; and
  • shape education and child welfare policies, programs, and practices.

how can we help you?

The Legal Center can assist you:
  • identify what information needs to be shared across systems;
  • understand how to share information consistent with federal and state confidentiality laws;
  • develop information-sharing tools, such as Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between child welfare and education.

Contact the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education to request training or technical assistance

Important data resources

National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care

In April 2021, the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, facilitated by the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, released an updated edition of Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care. This publication documents growing research on the educational needs of this group of students. Public and private agencies, universities, and philanthropic organizations have contributed to this increase in data collection and research at the state and local levels.

Foster care and Education - Data Points Articles 

Article 1: Understanding why Data Matters and the Foster Care ESSA Data Requirements 

Article 2: Bridging a Data Divide: Data Sharing for Youth in Foster Care

Roadmap for Quality K-12 and Foster Care Data Linkages

In December 2016, the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and Data Quality Campaign brought together experts from around the country to provide guidance on creating high-quality data linkages at the state level between child welfare and education agencies. The resulting publication, Roadmap for Quality K-12 and Foster Care Data Linkages, includes advice and examples. Key practice considerations include:

  1. Developing a Shared Vision,
  2. Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities,
  3. Building Capacity,
  4. Identification and Data Matching,
  5. Focusing on Data Quality,
  6. Data Analysis, Reporting, and Use, and
  7. Ensuring Privacy and Security.

State & Local Examples of Education Program Data

Kids in School Rule (KISR!) - Cincinnati, OH 

This collaborative program between the school system, courts, legal aid, and child welfare provides supports to students in foster care including child welfare agency-based education specialists who use real-time data.

Achievements Unlocked - Washoe County, NV

This project is a multidisciplinary team model that seeks to change the educational trajectory of students in foster care by providing advocacy, tutoring, mentoring, and case management to high school aged foster youth from daily data sharing.

Child Welfare Law & Policy

Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, amended by the Fostering Connections Act of 2008 

In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections) included several education provisions in federal child welfare law. This was the first time that school stability was prioritized in federal law and marked a shift in the need for child welfare agencies to prioritize the educational needs of students in foster care. 

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS)

In  2020, final regulations were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revising the data that child welfare systems will be required to report annually to HHS as part of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), a child welfare data collection system designed to gather uniform and reliable information across states on children in foster care and children who have been adopted. Among the changes adopted, child welfare agencies are now required to report on several elements related to education, including school enrollment, highest grade completed, and involvement in special education. 

Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS)

In 2016, HHS published the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) final rule, significantly changing federal requirements related to automated systems that collect and store child welfare data for state and tribal Title IV-E agencies. Among the requirements, the CCWIS final rule for the first time requires agencies building these systems to exchange data with other health and human service agencies including education systems and child welfare courts, if practicable. 

National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) 

The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) is managed through the Children's Bureau and collects information on youth in foster care care including outcomes of youth who have aged out of foster care. 


Education Law & Policy

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA outlines the responsibility of schools to protect the privacy of a student’s education records, including parental consent to access educational records.

Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2013 (USA) 

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) amended the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to clarify that child welfare professionals can access educational records of youth in their care, even without parental consent. Read a factsheet about USA

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 

Under ESSA, beginning in the 2017-18 school year, SEAs were required to collect and report annually on student achievement and graduation rates for all students in foster care. To implement this requirement, education and child welfare agencies need to work together to ensure effective, appropriate, and confidential data and information sharing between systems.

Data Archives

Federal Materials

Q & A Factsheets