Jim Casey Initiative Sites Pilot College Readiness Model

Posted January 13, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Three sites with the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive® have been select­ed to par­tic­i­pate in a col­lege readi­ness pilot for youth who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care.

The pilot advances the Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion (FHE) mod­el, which sup­ports a key objec­tive of the Jim Casey Initiative’s work: ensur­ing that young peo­ple exit­ing fos­ter care have the rela­tion­ships, resources and oppor­tu­ni­ties need­ed to thrive. FHE has sev­er­al evi­dence-based com­po­nents and lever­ages resources — such as an edu­ca­tion advo­cate, oppor­tu­ni­ties for men­tor­ship and a spe­cial­ized cur­ricu­lum —aimed at help­ing youth with fos­ter care expe­ri­ence make the leap from high school to college.

Researchers Amy Salazar of Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty and Kevin Hag­ger­ty of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton devel­oped FHE and aid­ed in select­ing the fol­low­ing Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive sites for the pilot:

Fos­ter Suc­cess, Indiana

Based in Indi­ana, Fos­ter Suc­cess col­lab­o­rates with the Indi­ana Depart­ment of Child Ser­vices Old­er Youth Ini­tia­tive, the Indi­ana Com­mis­sion of High­er Edu­ca­tion and the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive. The non­prof­it works to ensure that young peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care — par­tic­u­lar­ly youth of col­or — have the resources they need to grad­u­ate from high school on time and access post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment pro­grams. Fos­ter Suc­cess has also focused on direct­ly sup­port­ing youth via an inno­v­a­tive design of Indiana’s Edu­ca­tion and Train­ing Vouch­er program.

Fos­ter Suc­cess will pilot FHE in the North­west region of Indi­ana — home to the state’s high­est share of Black stu­dents — and use it to strength­en exist­ing ser­vices for stu­dents with fos­ter care experience.

The Mul­ti-Agency Alliance for Chil­dren (MAAC), Georgia

MAAC oper­ates a range of pro­grams aimed at help­ing old­er youth in fos­ter care — par­tic­u­lar­ly old­er Black youth — achieve equi­ty aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. The orga­ni­za­tion col­lab­o­rates with the Geor­gia Divi­sion of Fam­i­ly and Chil­dren Ser­vices and local col­leges, includ­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Georgia’s J.W. Fan­ning Insti­tute for Lead­er­ship Development.

MAAC reports con­tribut­ing to a mean­ing­ful increase in high school grad­u­a­tion rates among Black youth in the Atlanta region. They aim to fur­ther these efforts via the FHE pilot, with a focus on remov­ing bar­ri­ers for Black male and par­ent­ing students.

The Youth Pol­i­cy Insti­tute of Iowa (YPII), Iowa

YPII — a Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive par­tic­i­pant since 2005 — has real­ized mea­sur­able gains in high-school grad­u­a­tion rates among Iowan youth in fos­ter care. Yet, the state’s post-sec­ondary enroll­ment and com­ple­tion rates con­tin­ue to fall short of the nation­al aver­age. The FHE pilot will bol­ster YPI­I’s efforts to begin con­nect­ing with stu­dents in high school and pro­vide con­sis­tent ser­vices and sup­port as they tran­si­tion to college.

YPII will imple­ment FHE in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Iowa Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices, the Iowa After­care Ser­vices Net­work, and Foun­da­tion 2, which is an inno­v­a­tive com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tion offer­ing exten­sive ser­vices to tran­si­tion-age youth. The pilot will serve the Cedar Rapids area, which has a high con­cen­tra­tion of kids of col­or in fos­ter care, includ­ing Black, and Indige­nous youth.

Ilene Berman, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foundation’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group, believes that the three pilot sites share dis­tinct strengths, includ­ing a his­to­ry of build­ing and using evi­dence, a com­mit­ment to pro­mot­ing racial equi­ty, a proven record of improv­ing out­comes for old­er youth in fos­ter care, and a plan for FHE to fill gaps in their cur­rent efforts.

At a time when the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has cre­at­ed so many dif­fi­cul­ties for stu­dents with few resources, we believe the FHE approach will demon­strate the dif­fer­ence that the right con­nec­tions and sup­port can make and also the ben­e­fit when stu­dents suc­ceed,” says Berman.

Cather­ine Lester, a senior asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion who works with the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive, expects the pilot to help shape her field’s efforts to part­ner with youth. Engag­ing, sup­port­ing, and shar­ing pow­er with those with lived expe­ri­ence is a racial equi­ty strat­e­gy, and this pilot is yet anoth­er way for us to deep­en our abil­i­ty to do that.”

Learn about the eco­nom­ic ben­e­fit of help­ing young peo­ple exit­ing care extend their aca­d­e­m­ic lad­der beyond high school

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