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  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 18: Financial Support Systems
18-6.1  Education Travel Reimbursement

 

Financial Support Systems
18-6.1 Education Travel Reimbursement
Reference Points
Overview
Who Decides the Child's Best Interest
Who Can Claim Educational Reimbursements
Who Cannot Claim Educational Reimbursements
Reimbursement Rates
Procedures to Claim Reimbursement
Educational Stability Plan
Special Projects Code Entries by PTT
Requesting Bus Passes through DFCS
Overpayments
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: In effect
Last Updated: 7/31/2013
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Federal Public Law 110–351
Popup Window California Assembly Bill (AB)1933
Popup Window California Education Code § 48853.5
pdf California Department of Social Services (CDSS) All County Letter (ACL) 11-51: Education Travel Reimbursement
pdf California Department of Social Services (CDSS) All County Letter (ACL) 13-03: Education Travel Reimbursement
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet SCZ414Z –Education Travel Reimbursement Request (SCZ414Z)


Overview  

The federal law, Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008, provides for a child entering the child welfare system to remain in the

school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement.  Additionally, State AB 1933 and SB 1353 allow the child to remain in the school of origin for the duration of the foster care placement, if it is in the best interest of the child, and allow the child to remain in the school of origin throughout multiple placement changes, if it is in the best interest of the child.  

The federal law also provides for the cost of reasonable travel for the child to remain in the school of origin as an allowable foster care maintenance cost. DFCS has sent letters to caregivers informing them of the new law and reimbursement for education travel options.  Educational travel reimbursement is available to any foster parent who transports a foster child to school, irrespective as to whether it is the child’s school of origin, as long as the reason for transport is justified in the child’s case plan.

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Deciding on the Child's Best Interest  

The authority to determine which school the child will attend rests with the person holding educational rights and the child, in consultation with the school district foster care liaison and the placing agency (Education Code section 48853.5).

The school district foster youth education liaison, in consultation with the parent(s) or holder of the child’s educational rights and the child, may recommend that the foster child's right to attend the school of origin be waived and the foster child be enrolled in any public school that pupils living in the attendance area in which the foster child resides are eligible to attend.  If a waiver is recommended by the liaison, the liaison must provide the foster child and the person holding the right to make educational decisions for the foster child with a written explanation stating the basis for the recommendation and how this recommendation serves the foster child's best interest.

For more information in regards to decision on educational placement, please refer to OPP Chapter 16-5 Education Stability Plan & Documentation in Case Records

See California Foster Care Education Fact Sheet.

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Who Can Claim Educational Reimbursements  

Placements that qualify to claim the educational travel reimbursement include:

  • County Licensed Foster Family Homes
  • Relatives with a Santa Clara County Foster Home License
  • Relatives with completed home approvals
  • Non-relative extended family members with completed home approvals
  • Foster Family Agency (FFA)
    • The FFA will reimburse the FFA home.
  • Non-Minor Dependent, who is attending their high school of origin, placed in a SILP and meeting all other requirements (as described in ACL No. 11-77).

The child or Non-Minor Dependent must:

  • Be eligible for federal foster care payments.
  • Be in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Dependency must have been established for the child through the juvenile court.
  • Have an Educational Stability Plan written into the case plan that indicates that the child will remain in the school of origin or school of previous placement.
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Who Cannot Claim Educational Reimbursements  
  • Non-Related Legal Guardians (NRLG) with non-dependent children
  • Adoptive parents receiving funds through the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)
  • Relative guardians receiving KinGAP funding
  • Parents receiving voluntary or Court-ordered Family Maintenance services
  • Non Minor Dependents in SILP placements who are not attending high school at their school of origin
  • Non-Minor Dependents placed in THP+FC
  • Group Homes
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Reimbursement Rates  

Reimbursement for education travel may be claimed for mileage, if the caregiver drives the child to school, or for public transportation passes, if the caregiver purchases bus passes or tokens for the child to take public transportation to school.  A combination claim may submitted if the transport requires both driving and public transportation, for example, caregiver driving the child to a bus stop so that the child can take public transportation from that point.  A claim is made for each child who qualifies. 

 

  • Public transportation rates.
    • Caregivers may purchase bus passes or tokens for the child and be reimbursed for the purchase.
    • Public transportation passes are reimbursed at the flat rates of $25, $50 or $75 per month per child. 
    • If the cost of the monthly public transportation pass falls between two rate levels, reimbursement to the caregiver is at the higher rate.  For example, VTA Youth Flash Passes cost $45 per month; the reimbursement is $50. Eligible Non-Minor Dependents who purchase a VTA Adult Flash Pass (cost of $70) will be reimbursed $75.
    • If a child changes placements, the pass is purchased for a specific month must follow that youth to their new placement.

  • Mileage reimbursement rates.


One Way Distance from Foster Care Placement Home to School

Partial miles are rounded up if it is 0.5 and above or rounded down if less than 0.5.

Travel Rate Reimbursement per Month per Child

Up to 3.4 miles

$0

3.5 miles – 8.4 miles

$58

8.5 miles – 13.4 miles

$154

13.5 miles – 18.4 miles

$250

18.5 miles – 23.4 miles

$347

23.5 miles or more

$443

An assumption is made that a school-age foster child will be transported to his or her school of origin and back to the foster care placement by the caregiver, or designee equating to 4 one-way trips, 15 school days per month (based on 180 school days per year divided by 12 months).



If a child/youth changes placement, mileage payments for partial months of placement will be prorated.   There is no prorating for situations such as school days off or vacations.

 
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Procedures to Initiate Reimbursement  

To initiate the education travel reimbursement,  the social worker:

  • Discusses the logistics of transporting the child to the school with the caregiver or with an eligible Non-Minor Dependent traveling to their school of origin
    • Determine the appropriate travel plan for each child by considering the child’s capacity to travel safely using public or school transportation, the provider’s ability to provide the transportation or other reasonable alternatives, etc.

  • Completes the SCZ414Z –Education Travel Reimbursement Request which is also used as the Education Travel Reimbursement Agreement.
    • One SCZ414Z form must be submitted for each child for whom reimbursement is claimed.
    • The form may cover up to a 6 month period. A new form must be submitted every six (6) months.
    • Eligible Non-Minor Dependents are the payee for their Education Travel Reimbursements.

  • Has the caregiver or FFA designee sign the SCZ414Z.

    If the reimbursement request...

    Then the social worker...

    Is for miles driven by the caregiver

    Attaches a Google or Mapquest map showing one-way miles from home address to school address to verify the miles claimed.

    Is for public transportation reimbursement



  • Attaches to the SCZ414 a printout of the documented Education Stability Plan from CWS/CMS (either a copy of the contacts with the the child's education rights holder and the care provider, the education section of the child's most recent court report  or the case, in which the education stability plan is detailed).  See OPP Chapter 16-5 Education Stability Plan & Documentation in Case Records for instructions on Documentation of Educational Stability Plan in CWS/CMS and Case Documents.
  • Submits the SCZ414Z to the Social Work Supervisor for approval.

  • Submits the SCZ414Z to the DFCS Special Funds unit for approval.

  • Incorporates the education stability plan in the court report and CWS/CMS case plan.


    After processing, the Special Funds Analyst forwards the SCZ414Z to the Placement Tracking Team (PTT).  PTT will enter Education Travel Reimbursement into the special project code in the CWS/CMS case and forward the Education Travel Reimbursement request to the Foster Care Eligibility Bureau Management Analyst for processing.  The reimbursement amount can be added to the caregiver’s monthly foster care rate and the payment may include both the basic rate plus the transportation claim amount.

    Requests for education travel reimbursements must be submitted every six months. Reimbursements end when the placement ends, when transportation arrangements are no longer needed, or if the Social Worker does not submit the new request at the six-month period.

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Educational Stability Plan  

Please refer to OPP Chapter 16-5 Education Stability Plan & Documentation in Case Records for more information on the documentation the Education Stability Plan.

An Educational Stability Plan is required for each child while in foster care. The Educational Stability Plan ensures that thoughtful decisions, in the child's best interest, considering are made in regards to the child's educational placement and when possible the child remains in their school or origin. Additionally, the plan must include plans preventive steps/plans to help ensure the child will remain in the school of origin so there is no disruption to his/her education, if further placement change is necessary.

Since various entities have an interest in the information regarding educational stability and placement, including the California State Department of Social Services for compliance purposes, it is best practices that these conversation, discussions and decisions be documented in:  

  • Contact within the Client Contact Notebook in CWS/CMS
  • Case Plan in CWS/CMS
  • Court Report

Documentation of the Education Stability Plan is required when requesting Education Travel Reimbursement. A copy of any of the documents listed above will suffice as

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Special Projects Code Entries by PTT  

After the DFCS Special Funds Unit processes the reimbursement request, the SCZ414Z is forwarded to PTT for entry of the Special Projects Code. 

The Placement Tracking Team (PTT) enters a Special Project Code into CWS/CMS for each child who receives a transportation reimbursement.  The statewide special project code is identified as S-1 Educational Travel Reimbursement- A child who is receiving educational travel reimbursement as a result of remaining in their school of origin.

PTT then forwards the information to the Foster Care Eligibility Bureau Management Analyst to set up the reimbursement.

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Requesting Bus Passes through DFCS  

Social workers may continue to request bus passes from DFCS clerical for a youth who is using public transportation to travel to his or her school of origin. However, Social Workers are asked to encourage caregivers to purchase the passes and claim reimbursement rather than the Social Worker requesting passes through clerical staff.   Caregivers will pay $45 for a bus pass in Santa Clara County and will be reimbursed at the $50 rate.

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Overpayments  

An overpayment may be assessed for a provider who is no longer transporting a child to their school of origin, but continues to receive an education travel rate as part of the maintenance payment.

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Other References   OPP Chapter 16-5 Education Stability Plan & Documentation in Case Records.
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