Yesterday marked the official launch of the National Alliance for Success after Foster Care, an effort to coalesce knowledge and best practices to serve youth who age out of foster care.
The alliance will be housed, but not completely led, by Foster Care to Success (FC2S), a Sterling, Va.-based organization that has assisted older foster youth in preparing for and succeeding in college.
“This is not a Foster Care to Success program,” said FC2S Executive Director Eileen McCaffrey, in an e-mail to The Imprint. “It is community organizing initiative to help frame the issue and engage and educate more people, organizations and policy makers.”
FC2S intends to include a wide range of child welfare stakeholders in the alliance, including service providers, former foster youths, parents, foster parents, social workers, judges and mentors.
Steve Rios, who was hired in late 2014 by FC2S, will serve as the organization’s point person on the new alliance. Rios is the co-founder of Florida Reach, a network of child welfare and higher education professionals in Florida focused on helping former foster youth succeed after high school.
A high percentage of aging out foster youths experience significant difficulty as they enter adulthood, according to Chapin Hall’s Midwest Evaluation, which tracked hundreds of former foster youths through age 26.
Just seven percent of youths in the study obtained a two- or four-year college degree. Meanwhile, under 15 percent of aging out youth experience homelessness after care, and more than a third of those are homeless for more then 30 nights.
“From Kansas to California, Vermont to Georgia and everywhere in between, foster care is a multifaceted system that needs to share information and champion the needs and potential of those who experience foster care,” McCaffrey said.
FC2S is operates several scholarship and financial assistance programs for foster youths. It also manages the federal Educational Training Voucher program, which provides up to $5,000 for current or former foster youths in college, for eight states.
John Kelly is the editor of The Imprint.