Establishing Foster Care Points of Contact

Peggy Carlson, Foster Care Program Supervisor, OSPI
Sep 02, 2021

child's hands holding a small heart

Senate Bill (SB) 5184 was signed into law last spring and requires that each public school identify a point of contact for students in foster care. This bill was requested by OSPI and reflects feedback and needs from child welfare stakeholders and Washington school districts. Washington is currently the only state where this is required by law.

Students in foster care often face academic and social/emotional/behavioral challenges beyond those experienced by their non-foster care peers. When students are connected with a caring adult, are attending school regularly, and have the supports they need, they are more likely to be successful in school and in life. Establishing a building point of contact will support coordination of resources and facilitate compliance with state and federal laws related to students in foster care. 

Here are some important notes about this new law:

  • Each K–12 public school in the state must establish a building point of contact in each elementary school, middle school, and high school.

  • These points of contact must be appointed by the principal, in consultation with the district foster care liaison, and are responsible for coordinating services and resources for students in foster care.

  • The district foster care liaison is responsible for training building points of contact.

  • OSPI shall make available best practices for choosing and training building points of contact. 

Why do we need building points of contact?

  • To identify and support students in foster care.

  • To help ensure that district liaisons can carry out their required duties.

  • To help school-level staff understand student needs and rights.

Consider these qualities and ideas when designating building points of contact:

  • Representation matters

  • Racial equity and support for students of color

  • Support for LGBTQ+ students

  • Lived experiences

  • Meaningful relationships with students, families, and staff

  • Passion for the work

  • Community connections

Consider selecting someone in the role of counselor, social worker, family outreach or engagement coordinators, or another supportive role. Local education authorities should not select school resource officers for this role due to the potential stigma or concern about sharing information with law enforcement.

Work with your district leadership to be intentional about who is serving as the building point of contact. What duties will they be responsible for? How do these duties fit with their current position? Is there funding that can be used to support this extra work? Pay attention to collective bargaining agreements.

For more information, visit OSPI's page on supports for students in foster care or check out this Guide to Supporting Students in Foster Care. Questions? Contact Peggy Carlson.

  • Foster Care
  • Student Support
Back To Top