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March 2011Vol. 12, No. 2Supporting Higher Education for Students From Foster Care

Casey Family Programs recently updated their Supporting Success framework, a tool to help higher education organizations develop and enhance services to improve outcomes for students from foster care. In addition to the stressors faced by most new students transitioning to a college environment, youth from foster care often have unique needs related to housing, food, transportation, health care, and financial aid. The framework helps colleges improve their existing student support services and develop new programs to address these needs so students can focus on their academic success. The authors of the framework provide guidance on the six elements necessary for program development:

  • Designated leadership
  • Internal and external champions
  • Collaborations with community agencies
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Staff peer support and professional development
  • Sustainability planning

In addition, the authors describe six elements for providing direct student support:

  • Year-round housing and other basic needs
  • Financial aid
  • Academic advising and career counseling
  • Personal guidance, counseling, and supplemental support
  • Opportunities for student community engagement and leadership
  • Planned transitions to college, between colleges, and from college to employment

The framework discusses each element in detail and presents concrete action steps to address each element. Throughout the framework, the authors utilize case examples of promising programs from community colleges and universities in California, Connecticut, Michigan, and Texas.

John Emerson and Lee Bassett were the principal authors of Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students From Foster Care: A Framework for Program Enhancement (version 2.0). Download the full publication, a selected bibliography, and a program planning and improvement guide on the Casey Family Programs website: