A Promising College-Readiness Model for Youth in Foster Care

Updated on September 7, 2022 and originally posted July 25, 2022 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A group of Black and Brown young people gather in a classroom setting. They are seated at desks—in a circle formation. In the middle of the group, a young Black woman holds a visual aid while leading a presentation.

A new webi­nar from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion shares lessons and find­ings from a col­lege-readi­ness effort focus­ing on youth in fos­ter care.

The ses­sion on the Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion mod­el high­lights promis­ing strate­gies used in pilot pro­grams at the Foundation‘s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive® sites in Geor­gia and Iowa. 

In addi­tion, pre­sen­ters dis­cuss results from an ear­li­er Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion pilot in Wash­ing­ton state. There, stu­dents increased par­tic­i­pa­tion in col­lege- and career-prepa­ra­tion tasks, such as attend­ing infor­ma­tion fairs, reg­is­ter­ing to take admis­sions-relat­ed exams and search­ing for schol­ar­ships,” said Amy Salazar, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty and a devel­op­er of the model.

Webi­nar pan­elists include:

Imple­ment­ing a Col­lege-Readi­ness Program

The fields of child wel­fare and col­lege readi­ness need promis­ing prac­tices based on evi­dence to sup­port young peo­ple in fos­ter care who want to attend col­lege,” said Cather­ine Lester, asso­ciate direc­tor of the Casey Foundation’s Fam­i­ly Well-Being Strat­e­gy Group. The Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion research helps iden­ti­fy what works and can be replicated.” 

Dur­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion at the Youth Pol­i­cy Insti­tute of Iowa and MAAC in Geor­gia, stu­dents meet with edu­ca­tion advo­cates while they explore col­lege options and apply for admis­sion and finan­cial aid. The pro­gram sup­port con­tin­ues dur­ing the first year of college.

The Fos­ter­ing High­er Edu­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum encour­ages stu­dents to set goals for nav­i­gat­ing six com­mon obsta­cles to col­lege success:

  • rela­tion­ships;
  • lack of sleep;
  • stress and men­tal health issues;
  • phys­i­cal health concerns;
  • finan­cial chal­lenges; and
  • alco­hol and drug misuse.

In addi­tion to address­ing stu­dents’ basic needs, it’s essen­tial to learn their inter­ests and cul­ti­vate excite­ment about post­sec­ondary oppor­tu­ni­ties,” said Wellons of MAAC, based in Atlanta. You take them out into the com­mu­ni­ty, and they speak with peo­ple who are doing those things, prefer­ably peo­ple who look like them, prefer­ably peo­ple who are sup­port­ive of them in what their inter­ests are. Hope and expo­sure have real­ly helped to tran­si­tion our youth out of sur­vival mode and into I can absolute­ly do this.’”

Learn More About Fos­ter­ing High­er Education

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