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Dec/Jan 2010Vol. 10, No. 10Supporting Youth Transitioning to College

Youth emerging from foster care face special challenges in attending college, including making the transition to college life, applying for financial aid, and finding housing during breaks. A new research brief published by the Advisory Board Company offers recommendations for building a support structure for foster youth in college and outlines essential support services that  youth need. Researchers spoke to contacts at five large public academic institutions, one mid-sized private university, the California State University system, and Casey Family Programs to determine how key support services for youth coming from foster care are structured, what resources are available to help these youth transition to university life, and how universities help them address challenges.

Key observations from the study include the following:

  • Universities need to provide financial, academic, and emotional/social support.
  • A full-time designated point person is vital for the success of youth coming from foster care to a university.
  • Universities need to build an advisory committee with contacts across campus, institutionalizing the university's commitment to foster youth.
  • Students should be asked for their feedback to inform programming.
  • Financial advising is essential, whether or not the university is able to provide a comprehensive scholarship for students aging out of foster care.
  • All 4-year institutions need to offer year-round, on-campus housing for foster youth (even during semester breaks and vacations).
  • It is important to integrate former foster youth into the university community and not offer too many activities in which they would meet only other former foster youth.

Building a Campus Support Network for Students Emerging From Foster Care, by Keely Bielat and Jennifer Yarrish, is available on the Casey Family Programs website:
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