Foster Youth Persistence to College

Posted by on November 18, 2013

Bolstering the odds for foster youth

About two-thirds of foster kids never attend college, and even fewer graduate; those who do have an uncommon resilience, writes Michael Winerip in The New York Times. In a 2010 study by the University of Chicago, only 6 percent of former foster youth had earned a two- or four-year degree by age 24. In contrast, 34 percent had been arrested by age 19. Evidence indicates that extra support can make a difference. A growing number of colleges — from U.C.L.A. to Los Angeles City College — have created extensive support programs aimed at current and former foster youth. At U.C.L.A., this includes scholarships, year-round housing for those with no other home, academic and therapeutic counseling, tutoring, healthcare coverage, campus jobs, bedding, towels, cleaning products, toiletries, and occasional treats. Seven states have particularly strong programs: California, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. These offer more comprehensive services than the comparatively light support from some institutions. Programs for foster youth have seen considerable growth in recent years, spurred in part by the 2003 creation of the Chafee grant program, an annual $48 million federal appropriation that awards scholarships of up to $5,000. Also important: legislation in 2008 that allowed states to extend federal aid programs for foster youth from age 18 to 21.

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