Credit hours:

Course Summary

Youth in foster care need supportive adults, mentors, and other higher education advocates to help them realize educational goals and pursuits. The majority of youth in/from foster care want to attend college. However, the rates of actual enrollment and completion don't match desire. 85 percent of foster youth aspire to attend college, but only 40 percent graduate from high school; only 20 percent actually enroll in higher education; and less than 4 percent graduate with a college degree. Moreover, research shows foster youth are more likely to graduate from a postsecondary program if they are better prepared academically, have independent living stability, AND are given tangible, hard/soft supports. This 2-part online course teaches current and prospective foster parents how to identify and overcome challenges/barriers to post-secondary education; how to encourage and support a young person’s pursuit of higher education; ways to help foster youth successfully navigate college admissions and financial aid processes; and finally, how to find and obtain resources to ensure college/academic success.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • The unique challenges and barriers foster youth encounter when pursuing higher education

  • The challenges foster parents face with creating a “college-going” culture, and how to overcome them 

  • How to encourage and support foster youth--at home and in school--in their pursuit of higher education

Step 1 (5 min)

Watch  Marquis, a former foster youth, share his inspiring story and journey (14 different homes and 15 different schools in a four-year period), culminating in graduation from the University of Cal State Northridge.

Step 2 (20 min)

Learn the unique challenges and barriers foster youth face in pursuing higher education, and how a new piece of legislation (HEASHFY) may help remove some of the barriers.

Step 3 (15 min)

Discover some of the challenges confronting foster parents in their efforts to support a young person’s educational goals; and how Kayla, a former youth in care, excelled in school and became a straight-A student once she was placed with a supportive foster parent.

Step 4 (10 min)

Read and watch how PrepNOW, a web-based curriculum and interactive learning tool, is helping foster parents better prepare foster youth for college by creating a “college-going” culture at home (Click on both the video and infographic). Their online curriculum (paid subscription if interested) not only shows parents how to support and guide youth through the college admissions and financial aid processes, but also steps to ensure academic success.

Step 5 (10 min)

Get a head start on encouraging and preparing foster youth for post-secondary education. Read how Fostering Success Michigan’s College Application Toolkit is helping foster parents and high school-aged foster youth prepare for college enrollment (Click on the links within the article for more detailed information).

Step 6 (10 min)

See how the College Preparation Checklist (Downloadable PDF) from the U.S. Department of Education provides a helpful to-do list in preparing youth for higher education.

Step 7 (5 min)

Briefly review the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Other Financial Aid Resources for Foster Youth.

Step 8 (5 min)

Join the Discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

As a current or prospective foster parent, what do (did?) you perceive as the greatest barriers to creating a "college-going" culture at home? If applicable, how did you overcome/remove these barriers? For those trying to build/help a family build a "college-going" culture, what advice would you give them? 

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Course Discussion

markmcnair's picture

markmcnair said:

I don't think that a "college going" environment is nearly as important as it potentially once was.
Katchick's picture

Katchick said:

encourage kids to finish high school and further their education
fjenkins5's picture

fjenkins5 said:

I have not experience this yet. I would encourage high school graduates to futhter their education
Jaleah's picture

Jaleah said:

Need more work to do
Roy and Sue's picture

Roy and Sue said:

Try to make sure they understand the importance of education; whether college or community college, vocational school, or even apprenticeship or learning on the job - to help ensure their future income and stability. Let them know you are available to help in any way you can.
kcarden2's picture

kcarden2 said:

I work in higher education so this helps me normalize college culture, introduce children to college students, college campuses, etc.
George Jackson's picture

George Jackson said:

This is great information. I have 3 kids that have went to college so far and 4 more to go. It always good to find out what extra resources are available
lanne's picture

lanne said:

It's important to talk about college--to share your own college journey if you have one, to talk about preparing for college, to talk about test preparation, AP classes. It's important to visit colleges and show them what college life is all about.
kateem02's picture

kateem02 said:

The biggest barrier is that education and the value of education is not often emphasized in the lives of foster children. It is important to demonstrate that learning and achieving in school and going to college increases future income and future stability. Foster parents need to talk about school, review homework, allow/support participation in extra curricular activities, and start helping teens take the necessary steps to enter college.
G.Brown's picture

G.Brown said:

I try to make sure they understand the importance of a good education, that they know I am there to help, support and encourage them anyway I can.