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

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.
shawnhill's picture

shawnhill said:

We try and make sure that our children understand the value of education and that they are capable of it. For our middle schooler, we check his grades and work everyday to see how it's going. We are able to see where the struggle is happening and offer support in that area. We celebrate accomplishments and make them believe they can to it.
rhiannon's picture

rhiannon said:

I think being as supportive as I can be will help my 2 toddlers and 1 infant. I know we have a long way away for college, but even now with them going to daycare, we call that school. So far, the toddlers are excited going to school and seeing there friends and teachers. We let them know school is an important part of there lives and they can be or do anything they set there mind to.
krboswell's picture

krboswell said:

I think the most difficult thing is to convince them that it's important to think about college and with other challenges in adulthood when so much else is going on right now.
anna9886's picture

anna9886 said:

The greatest barrier that I've encountered is the feeling in my foster child that so much is happening right now, college isn't a priority, which is an understandable feeling. I've tried to offset this by just keeping the "future" conversation positive with as much hopeful and possibility filled language as I can. The best thing I can think of to do is to make yourself, as a foster parent, available. By that, I mean say out loud and often that you'll talk through decisions, help with applications, visit schools, etc... Don't push but make college sound like the open door it should be.
Cschwendeman7's picture

Cschwendeman7 said:

We value education in our home, and always tell our kids to try their best, they can get themselves anywhere they want to be in life. Even if a college education isnt the first goal when the child graduates high school, they may always want to pursue further education a few years later.
Pete1122's picture

Pete1122 said:

The biggest hurdle i think would be convincing them there are opportunities out there for them.
Nplummer1's picture

Nplummer1 said:

I haven't had the experience of having a child in my home who was aging out of high school.. however I was in foster care and I had a mentor who helped me with everything my foster parents didn't do anything when it came to be going to school.
mossy0824's picture

mossy0824 said:

I went on to college myself and know the importance of encouraging the children in my home to explore college. College isn't for everyone but I at least like to see where there mind is at.
mossy09hd's picture

mossy09hd said:

Our home always encourages the children to do their best and reach for the stars. My wife went to college so she really works hard with those children in our home who desire to go to college