BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 709
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          Date of Hearing:   May 10, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES
                                Jim Beall Jr., Chair
                AB 709 (Brownley) - As Introduced:  February 17, 2011
           
          SUMMARY  :  Clarifies that children in foster care who change 
          schools have the right to be enrolled in their new school 
          immediately even if they are unable to produce medical records 
          including, but not limited to, immunization records at the time 
          of enrollment.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Adds a section to the Health and Safety Code to conform to 
            Education Code provisions requiring school districts to enroll 
            a foster child in school even if he or she is missing 
            immunization records.  

          2)Expresses the intent of the Legislature that a foster child be 
            immediately enrolled in and allowed to attend school, even if 
            he or she is unable to produce records normally required for 
            school enrollment to reconcile the provisions of the Health 
            and Safety Code with the provisions of the Education Code.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Allows a child or youth to remain in his or her school of 
            origin for the duration of the jurisdiction of the court when 
            his or her residential placement changes and when remaining in 
            the same school is in the child's best interest.

          2)Requires schools to immediately enroll a foster child even if 
            he or she has outstanding fees, fines, textbooks, or other 
            items to the school of last attendance or if the child is 
            unable to produce records or clothing required for enrollment, 
            including medical or academic records, proof of residency, or 
            school uniforms.  

          3)Requires the governing authority of each school to require 
            documentary proof of each pupil's immunization status, and 
            specifies that the governing authority shall record the 
            immunizations of each new pupil in the pupil's permanent 
            enrollment and scholarship record on a form provided by the 
            Department of Health Services (DHS). 

          4)Requires the immunization record of each new pupil admitted 








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            conditionally to be reviewed periodically by the governing 
            authority to ensure that within the time periods designated by 
            regulation of the DHS he or she has been fully immunized 
            against all of the diseases specified, and immunizations 
            received subsequent to entry shall be added to the pupil's 
            immunization record.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown 

           COMMENTS  :  This bill seeks to clarify and conform the Education 
          Code and the Health and Safety Code relative to immunization 
          records required for enrollment in school, particularly as they 
          relate to children and youth in foster care.  

           Background and need for the bill  :  Children and youth in foster 
          care face many challenges to their educational success.  Those 
          challenges come from both the circumstances that caused them to 
          be in foster care -abuse and/or neglect -and the realities of 
          being in foster care.  One of those realities is that, although 
          efforts are made to provide stable home and school environments 
          for foster children and youth, far too many of them experience 
          numerous changes in where they live, and unfortunately those 
          changes at times necessitate a change of schools.  

          Recent state and federal laws have recognized the importance of 
          school stability for children and youth in foster care.  Several 
          provisions of the federal Fostering Connections Act of 2008 
          promote educational stability and require state child welfare 
          agencies to coordinate with schools to ensure a child does not 
          change schools when entering foster care or when a change in 
          placement occurs, unless remaining in the original school is not 
          in the child's best interest.  Additionally, in an effort to 
          reduce the disruption of changing schools, AB 490 (Steinberg), 
          Chapter 862, Statutes of 2003, and AB 1933 (Brownley), Chapter 
          563, Statutes of 2010, allow foster children and youth to remain 
          in their original school and school feeder pattern as long as it 
          is in their best interest to do so.  If it is in the child's 
          best interest to change schools, current Education Code 
          provisions require that foster children and youth be immediately 
          enrolled in their new school even if they are unable to meet 
          some of the enrollment requirements imposed by a school 
          district, including immunization records. 

          However, provisions in the Health and Safety Code, updated last 
          year with the passage of AB 354 (Arambula), Chapter 434, 








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          Statutes of 2010, and the implementing regulations stipulate 
          that all school districts shall require documentary proof of 
          each pupil's immunization status, and prohibit a school from 
          allowing the admission of any pupil who does not meet the 
          requirements for admission stipulated in the regulations.  The 
          Health and Safety Code and regulations allow for an exemption 
          for a pupil that submits an affidavit stating that the 
          immunizations are contrary to the pupil's beliefs or for a pupil 
          whose parent submits a statement from a physician indicating 
          that a particular immunization is not considered safe for the 
          child.  However, the regulations do not mention the existing 
          allowable exemption for pupils in foster care whose records are 
          missing or cannot be produced, as stipulated in the Education 
          Code.  It has been suggested that the inconsistencies between 
          the two different Codes have led to confusion in the field 
          relative to the application of these laws, and children in 
          foster care continue to encounter barriers to enrollment when 
          their immunization records are missing.  The Foster Youth 
          Services 2010 report notes that the incomplete or untimely 
          transfer of health and education records continues to present 
          challenges for foster youth.  

          This bill will clarify within the Education Code that the 
          missing medical records that foster youth can enroll in school 
          without, include immunization records.  Additionally this bill 
          adds a section in the Health and Safety Code that conforms to 
          the Education Code provisions specifying that if a child or 
          youth in foster care is missing his or her immunization records, 
          the school district shall allow the child to enroll in school.  
          This bill seeks to reconcile the two codes and thus remove any 
          unnecessary barriers and delays children and youth in foster 
          care encounter to enroll in school.  

           Support:   In support of this bill, Public Counsel writes:

               Without efficient and immediate transfer and 
               enrollment procedures, foster youth are deprived of a 
               meaningful and appropriate education and denied 
               educational opportunity.  Provisions of the California 
               Health and Safety Code discussing documentation of 
               immunizations prior to a school admission have created 
               confusion.  As a result, foster youth may be denied 
               immediate enrollment, or be formally "enrolled" but 
               prevented from attending classes.  For these youth, 
               time is of the essence - even delaying enrollment or 








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               attendance a few days because of lack of immunization 
               records can bring chaos to a child's learning 
               experience, especially if such a delay occurs 
               repeatedly for children who are transferring schools 
               multiple times through no fault of their own.

           Previous legislation  :  

          AB 490 (Steinberg), Chapter 862, Statutes of 2003, created new 
          duties and rights related to the education of dependents and 
          wards in foster care, including giving foster youth the right to 
          remain in their school of origin for the duration of the school 
          year when their residential placement changes and remaining in 
          the same school is in the child's best interest.  

          AB 1933 (Brownley), Chapter 563, Statutes of 2010, requires a 
          local educational agency (LEA) to allow a child in foster care 
          to remain in his or her school of origin for the duration of the 
          court's jurisdiction including in the school feeder pattern as 
          long as it is in the child's best interest.

          AB 354 (Arambula), Chapter 434, Statutes of 2010, updated 
          vaccination requirements, in part, to allow the Department of 
          Public Health to require pertussis vaccinations prior to 
          students entering the seventh grade.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Advancement Project
          California Communities United Institute
          California State Association of Counties (CSAC)
          County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA)
          Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association
          Kern County Superintendent of Schools
          National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter (NASW-CA)
          National Center for Youth Law
          Public Counsel Law Center

           Opposition 
           
          None on file.
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Michelle Doty Cabrera / HUM. S. / (916) 








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          319-2089