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December/January 2015Vol. 15, No. 11Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care

In October 2013, over 100 local, State, and national child welfare, higher education, and related professionals and stakeholders convened in Los Angeles, CA, for a 1-day discussion about policy and program initiatives that promote postsecondary academic success for youth in foster care. This conference—the 2013 National Convening on Foster Youth and Higher Education (Convening)—was the basis for the summer 2014 report Outline to Improve the Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students From Foster Care. Authored by Foster Care to Success (FC2S), the report examines the barriers young people in foster care face in postsecondary education and why this vulnerable population fares so poorly compared to their non-foster-care peers. It provides a number of recommendations to improve this group's educational outcomes in higher education programs (and, subsequently, strengthen future career and economic outcomes).

The report is organized into three sections. The first, What Do We Know?, provides an overview of the issue and highlights some of the statewide collaborative efforts California, Washington State, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Arizona have underway to address the educational disparities of older youth transitioning to adulthood. Section two, Why Do Young People in Foster Care Fare Poorly in Postsecondary Education?, expounds on the following issues and proposed solutions:

  • IssueThe vast majority of youth in foster care are not college ready.
    Solution: Make high school count for students in foster care.
  • Issue: Youth in foster care may not connect postsecondary education and training programs with successful entry into the workforce and self-sufficient adulthood.
    Solution: Connect youth with opportunities to identify strengths, talents, and interests while they are in high school.
  • Issue: There is Federal, State, and local funding available to help youth. However, understanding eligibility for, gaining access to, and using existing resources to meet educational, housing, and personals needs is often challenging for youth, caregivers, and professionals.
    Solution: Work with young people to help them fully understand and manage their resources.

Finally, the last section presents recommendations to the fields of child welfare and higher education on what can and should be done to improve the postsecondary educational trajectories of young adults in foster care as well as advance a national movement to prioritize this issue.

FC2S is the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit dedicated to helping college-bound youth from foster care and youth aging out of the child welfare system. The report, Outline to Improve the Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students From Foster Care, funded by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and California College Pathways, may be accessed on the FC2S website at (3MB).

Related Items

Recognizing that the road to postsecondary educational success and beyond to a thriving adulthood can often be a challenging one for young adults aging out of foster care, FC2S designed the 9-Domain Student Support Services Model. During their time in college or other postsecondary training program, FC2S program participants are coached, mentored, and guided in nine areas: transportation, housing, education, relationships, self-actualization, financial literacy, physical health, parenting, and program engagement. To learn more about the model, visit the FC2S website at

Children's Bureau Express featured a Spotlight on Back to School in the September 2014 issue, available at