Foster Care to College:
Fostering Success for the Future

Research tells us that 70% of foster youth aspire to go to college, yet they attend at less than half the rate of their peers.  And most who do attend do not make it past their first year.  As every year of education mitigates poor outcomes, reducing the likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy, the Field Center strives to make higher education more accessible and successful for youth leaving the foster care system. Building on the success of the Field Center’s 2013 colloquium, Foster Care to College: Strategies for Success, the Field Center is engaging in a menu of activities through their FC2C program, including convening a work group of community and statewide stakeholders, conducting research, and advocating for legislative and policy change, both on local and national levels.

For more information about the Foster Care to College Work Group or to join our resource mailing list, email Sarah Wasch, Program Manager: swasch@upenn.edu.

The Field Center is providing the opportunity for select Greater Philadelphia colleges and universities to receive technical assistance to be the first in the region to start a College Support Program on their campus. We are pleased to announce that Cabrini University, Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University, and West Chester University were selected to receive technical assistance to develop campus-based support programs for youth from foster care. The Field Center has engaged Maddy Day, MSW, Director of Outreach and Training for Fostering Success Michigan and one of the nation’s foremost experts in college-based support programs for foster youth, to provide on-site support for colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia area that are committed to addressing the unique needs of foster youth who pursue higher education.

Campus Support Programs provide financial, academic, and other types of supports to help former foster youth succeed in college. This may include tuition assistance/scholarships, campus housing, a campus coach, meal plans, life skills training, mentorship, social enrichment, transportation, healthcare, and financial literacy. Campus support programs encourage a successful transition into adulthood, completion of a college degree, and career entry. Many of the resources that can successfully support foster youth already exist on campuses and can be accessed as part of a coordinated initiative.

 

Click here to view Foster Care to College event and training videos.

 


 

RESOURCE LIBRARY

 

JUST PUBLISHED (AUGUST 2016):

Campus Programming Directory for Foster Youth
This directory from the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research provides information on institutional supports and programs at Greater Philadelphia Area Colleges and Universities that can assist current and former foster youth in higher education.

 

Resources Supporting Foster Youth in Preparing For and Attending College


GENERAL RESOURCES FOR YOUTH

Foster Club’s Transition Toolkit: A Transition Plan for Foster Youth
The Transition Toolkit is a youth-involved, comprehensive way to develop a transition plan for foster youth aging out of care, including planning worksheets, record keeping, detailed maps and resources on a variety of essential topics.


Foster Club Permanency Pact
The Permanency Pact is a free tool designed to encourage life-long, kin-like connections between a young person from foster care and a supportive adult.


Foster Care to Success
The oldest and largest national nonprofit organization working with college bound foster youth, helping them to transition from care to adulthood through education. Youth may receive information, mentorship, coaching, care packages, and funding, including grants and scholarships, from Foster Care to Success.


Things People Never Told Me
This compilation of experiences and suggestions from youth who have transitioned out of foster care may be helpful in equipping other youth leaving foster care, and the professionals working with them, with the necessary tools to become independent and successful adults.


NAEHCY Unaccompanied Youth Toolkit
This toolkit from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth contains a variety of documents for professionals and students seeking information about supporting unaccompanied students in college.


Fostering Success Michigan National Postsecondary Support Map
This map provides links and information on state tuition waivers, statewide education support programs, and 4 year campus-based support programs for students who experience foster care.


US Department of Education Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO)
TRIO Programs serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to higher education programs. Student Support Services (SSS) is a campus-based TRIO program that may provide specific services, mentoring, and housing for youth in or aging out of the foster care system.


Federal Student Aid: FAFSA Dependency Status
This flow chart helps financial aid professionals, students, and those helping students complete the FAFSA determine whether they are considered an independent or dependent applicant. The website also answers questions about what students should report on the FAFSA.


College Scholarships for Foster Children
This website lists national and state-specific scholarships available to current and former foster youth. Additional categories of student-specific scholarships include adult learners, first generation college students, and low-income students.


Foster Care Alumni of America
FCAA is a national advocacy group with regional chapters. Published works for purchase include Flux, a detailed book on life after foster care told by seven different foster care alumni.


US Department of Education Foster Care Transition Toolkit 
This toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education and set out on a career with personal fulfillment. The toolkit is written for foster youth and is also meant to be a resource for caseworkers, care givers, teachers and mentors.

 

PENNSYLVANIA & REGIONAL RESOURCES FOR YOUTH

Pennsylvania Association of TRIO Programs
PA TRIO is the premier state association supporting the goals of access and opportunity for higher education. The website includes a description of statewide programming and links to an interactive nationwide map of TRIO programs and the PA TRIO Fact Book.


Philadelphia Futures Step Up to College Guide
Designed with first-generation-to-college students in mind, this guide is tailored to Philadelphia’s students in grades nine to twelve and their families, leading them through each stage of the college admissions process – from test preparation and identifying college choices, to writing application essays and understanding financial aid, to transitioning to college life.


For the Love of Success: An educational toolkit for Philadelphia Foster Youth
This toolkit was created by foster youth for foster youth to help them graduate from high school and get into college. It is designed to be helpful for any youth in high school. It also has insightful advice from foster youth who have been through the process and bountiful resources for youth to plan successful college experiences.


PA Youth Advisory Board
The Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is comprised of current and former substitute care youth ages 16-21. Youth leaders on the YAB educate, advocate, and form partnerships to create positive change in the substitute care system. Includes a section on resources for foster youth seeking higher Education in PA.


Resource Information for Former Foster Youth and Current Foster Youth at Penn State
A resource directory specific to Penn State University providing tips for current or former foster youth thinking about attending, contacts on campus who are available for foster youth, and scholarship information.


How Can I Pay For College: Grant Money for PA Foster Youth
This informative fact sheet explains 4 sources of grant funding for foster youth in Pennsylvania. Grants are money for college that youth do not have to pay back.


Resources for Professionals

 

BEST PRACTICES

NO TIME TO LOSE A Policy Agenda to Support College Success for Foster Youth (January 2015)
A California-based report identifying the specific policies and practices that must change to help foster youth achieve their postsecondary goals, arriving on a set of 17 policy recommendations.


Supporting Success: Improving higher education outcomes for students from foster care (December 2010)
This guide provides useful information for college counselors, student support services programs and TRIO programs, professionals and advocates. This powerful tool provides a framework for improving postsecondary education and training outcomes for students in and from foster care.


Campus Connections: Securing Campus Housing & Other Supports for Youth Who Were in Foster Care
A Texas-based but nationally relevant step-by-step guide on how to build a comprehensive support system for post-secondary institutions to assist students formerly in foster care.


Foster Youth Campus Support Programs: A LEADERSHIP GUIDE: (June 2013)
A guide for professionals to plan, develop and maintain successful Campus Support Programs, including samples of forms that can be adapted for use by a developing program.


College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers
The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)’s College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers aims to serve as a comprehensive resource on the issue of higher education access and success for homeless students, many of whom are former foster youth.


It’s My Life: Postsecondary Education and Training A Guide for Transition Services from Casey Family Programs
It’s My Life is a framework to develop services for young people preparing to make the transition from foster care to successful adulthood, offering specific strategies, tactics, and resources for youth and the adults who guide and support them.


Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Community on Homelessness and Foster Care
This knowledge community offers a variety of resources for postsecondary professionals serving students from foster care.


Legal Center for Foster Care and Education
This website includes multiple Q&A factsheets and issue briefs pertaining to education for foster youth and other child welfare initiatives, as well as a detailed publication that acts as a how-to guide for professionals to help improve educational outcomes for children.


Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College

This tip sheet addresses issues that can hinder young adults in their efforts to attend or succeed in college, such as life instability, services, and transition to adulthood. The tip sheet offers strategies to college faculty and staff to support students from foster care to overcome these issues.


Achieving Success: Guidance for Colleges to Better Support Foster Youth
This document, created by current and former foster youth, highlights recommendations of actions that colleges can take to improve access to higher education for foster youth nationwide, pledges that colleges can make to create tangible change on their campuses, and information about tuition waiver options for foster youth.

 

 

RESEARCH

Charting the Course: Using Data to Support Foster Youth College Success
This report offers new insights into the educational experiences of foster youth attending community colleges and universities throughout California by providing information on a common set of academic progress and outcome measures.


Foster Care to College Partnership: Evaluation of Education Outcomes for Foster Youth (December 2009)
An independent evaluation of Washington State’s Foster Care to College Partnership. The FCTCP’s educational campaign resulted in increased numbers of foster youth graduating from high school and attending college.


Issue Brief: Cost Avoidance – The Business Case for Investing in Youth Aging Out of Foster Care 

This Casey report highlights the financial price tag to taxpayers of poor outcomes among youth exiting foster care, making a strong case for the financial investment in these youth. The issue brief highlights costs in three areas: education, parenthood, and justice system involvement.