Whereas foster youth encounter many adverse impacts caused by their high mobility, the Commonwealth shall ensure greater educational stability for foster youth. Therefore, the electronic backpack serves to counter adverse impacts caused by educational instability of foster youth.
SECTION 1. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-
“Department”, shall mean the department of children and families.
“Foster youth”, shall mean a child under the care or custody of the department of children and families or a young adult who has signed a voluntary placement agreement with the department of children and families.
“Electronic backpack”, shall mean an electronic repository of a foster youth’s educational records.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the commissioner of the department, in consultation with the office of the child advocate and the secretary of education, shall develop and implement an electronic backpack program for the educational stability of foster youth.
SECTION 3. (a) The department shall create an electronic backpack for each foster youth. The department, in conjunction with the department of education, shall determine the format of the electronic backpack. Each electronic backpack must contain educational records of the foster youth, including the names and addresses of educational providers, the foster youth's grade-level performance, and any other educational information the department requires.
(b) The department shall maintain the electronic backpack as part of the department's records for the foster youth as long as the foster youth remains in foster care.
(c) The department shall make the electronic backpack available to:
(1) any person authorized by law to make educational decisions for the foster youth;
(2) any person authorized to consent to medical care for the foster youth; and
(3) any provider of medical care to the foster youth if access to the foster youth's educational information is necessary for the provision of medical care and is not prohibited by law.
(d) The department shall collaborate with the department of education to develop policies and procedures to ensure that the needs of foster youths are met in every school district.
SECTION 4. The department shall implement the electronic backpack program within one year of passage of this Act.
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