You can make the difference

We know that 70 percent of foster youth express a desire to go to college. However, what does that really mean? Although many foster youth express a desire to further their education, the percentage of foster youth who will enroll in a post-secondary institution is 20% compared to 60% of the general population. For former foster youth who gain access to post-secondary education, 67% will drop out before graduation. As a result, only 3-5% will gain a bachelor’s degree prior to the age of 26.
 
For too long this population has fallen under the radar in higher education. In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008(P.L. 110-351) instructed institutions to examine how they support "foster youth in higher education.”  With this being a new practice, it is critical that institutions evaluate how they work with former foster youth on their respective campuses. In order to begin that conversation, two important questions must be answered by administration:

1. How successful are former foster youth at your college or higher education institution?

Data is the foundation. As you begin to work with this population it is important to see the numbers. Numbers to look at include:

Enrollment rate: Did you know that by working with your financial aid office you can get a starting point of how many former foster youth are on your campus. Reviewing the FAFSA data is a great place to start.

Persistence and Retention Rate: We all know that the first year of school for any student is pivotal. Therefore, look at the data to see the success rate of youth during the first three semesters.

2. What supports do we have in place that are contributing to their success?

More and more institutions of higher education are initiating support services designed specifically to meet the needs of former foster youth on their campuses. Ohio Reach encourages you to begin the critical dialogue on your campus and consider developing strategies to meet the needs of this unique population.

To find out more information or how your campus could begin to assist this population, please feel free to contact us at william@pcsao.org