Without dramatic changes and a structured approach, the college graduation rate for students who have lived in foster care will remain one of the lowest in the country at 3 percent, according to a recently released study from the University of the Pacific.
The study examined seven foster youth’s experiences over a nearly three semester journey through a California community college. It concluded that there was an extreme lack of guidance for foster youth, a problem given that many youths in care are dependent on structured institutional programs.
“Simply having a dedicated person whom foster youth can go to and ask questions — something many of these young people have never had — could really make a difference to their college success,” said study co-author Melinda Westland.
Foster Youth and College: NJFC and Project MYSELF
While the issue of guidance may be a problem nationally for youth who have lived in foster care, New Jersey does provide places for these youths to go and get answers. The New Jersey Foster Care (NJFC) Scholars Program provides financial and educational assistance for eligible youth while also supplying a supportive coaching relationship through Project MYSELF. Continue reading
While most of her peers were worrying about earning a place on the soccer team, making new friends and passing the next algebra test, Kristine Gunningham was facing far bigger obstacles.
First, her parents separated. It was difficult for Kristine to come to terms with the idea that her mother and father might never be together again. But what happened next was still more traumatizing.
“Shortly after my parents separated my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer.” Kristine said.
Nothing could be more devastating for a 14-year-old girl. Continue reading
There are two things you can do when life throws its worst at you – give up or survive. Against all odds, Kaitlyn Radauscher chose the latter; she graciously shared her foster care success story with us.
When she was 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, Kaitlyn lost her father to suicide. Devastated, she was unable to turn to her biological mother for the comfort and care she needed. She had to move out of her home and in with her aunt and uncle. It was then she became a foster child.
“When I first went into foster care, I wasn’t happy about it,” Kaitlyn says. “I never imagined my life to turn out the way it did. I was a little bitter inside because none of my friends had to deal with the same stuff I did.”
Despite the tragic change in her life, Kaitlyn continued to stay positive by surrounding herself with loved ones and continuing her routine of hanging out, going to work and attending school where she continued to excel. Continue reading
When you lose your mother to cancer and are then removed from your father’s care to another state, it can threaten to eliminate all hopes and dreams for a successful future. This is the beginning of the story, but not the end for one of FAFS’ private scholarship winners.
While children usually celebrate the ending of school year and prepare for summer days filled with fun, she had to say goodbye to her mother. She recalls holding on to her mom and taking in every memory she could of the delicate flower that was soon to pass away. It is no surprise that, when her mother passed, she felt a piece of herself disappeared.
That Sunday she went to church with her father, but she did not leave with him. The Department of Human Services came to take her and her two brothers away. It was then she knew her life was never going to be the same. She waited to finally go home to her father; that day never came. The question that rang most in her mind was “Why me?” In her mind, foster care was only for abused children. She had just lost her mother and then began to realize her father didn’t have the strength to hold up himself or his children. Continue reading
When it comes to financially supporting foster youth in their goal for a college education or job training, the Chafee Education and Training Voucher Program (ETV) is paramount.
Named after the late Sen. John Chafee (R-RI), the ETV was enacted in 2001 as part of the re-authorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act. The goal was to support former foster youth as they strive to become independent adults. Continue reading
Homeless Youth in College Cite Textbook Costs and Hunger as Threats to Earning a Degree
As announced in a previous edition of News From The Heart, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) received a generous grant from the Dreams R Us Foundation in December 2013. Portions of these funds were dedicated to ease the burden on homeless youth in college in New Jersey. Certain statistics indicate that the numbers of homeless or transitionally housed youth has risen by over 50% in several years. Some governmental programs help pay for fees and tuition for homeless youth in college but do not provide finances for requisite textbooks or other educational requirements. Of course, like most things, the price of books has continued to rise over time.
“Textbooks are hefty bills that amount to a knot in my stomach and an injury to my savings, instead of incredibly interesting and useful resources,” explained one applicant to the Breaking the Housing/Textbook Barrier Initiative. Once the student’s application was approved, FAFS and the Dreams R Us Foundation received a note saying, “My textbooks are no longer reminders of the financial sacrifices I make to stay afloat in college. I see them as sources of expertise, a way to broaden my interpretation of the world, and what my future career opportunities can be.” Continue reading