This Resource Guide is the culmination of intentional collaboration and advocacy efforts to create a stronger post-secondary pathway for current and former foster youth. In 2014, Children’s Aid launched the Fostering Youth Success Alliance (more affectionately known as FYSA), a New York State coalition that promotes responsive policies and programs to offer young people with a foster care background every opportunity to set higher expectations and achieve their goals. FYSA is dedicated to data-driven system reform, raising public awareness, and securing stabilizing supports that empower youth across the state to overcome barriers and excel in life.
FYSA’s first campaign – the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI) – advocated for the state to create a support system for youth in foster care and alumni to help them access resources designed to boost higher education enrollment and improve graduation rates. At the time, 22 states across the country had statewide tuition waivers, or other scholarships programs designed specifically for youth in care. The New York State Assembly responded quickly and became true champions for these youth by allocating 1.5 million in the 2015/16 state budget to establish FYCSI in the New York State educational code. As of 2019, New York has contributed a total of $21 million to support over 600 college students from foster care.
While a lack of financial aid is the primary reason youth with a foster care background do not enroll in college, it is not the reason they don’t graduate. Many of these students cite complications navigating and acclimating to college life, a lack of housing, and not having the benefit of supportive adults in their lives as why they don’t persist.
This Guide aims to provide people like you who work on college campuses and at child welfare agencies with tools and information to help you assist students striving to persist and achieve in school. Think of the Guide as part tool kit and part reference book, with a hefty dose of “truth serum” courtesy of the students who have graciously contributed their real-life experiences as a way to eliminate unnecessary obstacles for future generations.
We hope the information, templates, and materials inside this Guide ultimately make your job a little easier, and result in smoother, more positive college experiences for the students you encounter every day. While it is hard to fully understand what has shaped a young person’s life upon first meeting, we encourage you to take the time to ask the right questions and listen carefully to each student who comes to you for help. Finally, we hope you will share these resources with leadership at your institution to inspire thoughtful discussions about how your campus can adopt some of the recommendations outlined in Chapter 6 focused on making tangible improvements.
Our deepest gratitude to the brave, resilient students who shared their personal stories to help us understand what it is really like to attend college after being in foster care. We are so proud of your accomplishments and have no doubt that your hard work and dedication will lead you to brighter futures filled with endless possibilities.
Student Essay Writers and Reflection Quote Contributors
- Angelina Cremins, St. John Fisher College, Class of 2019
- Ericka Francois, SUNY New Paltz, Class of 2020
- Trenae Ka, Stony Brook University - SUNY, Class of 2019
- Shaqueana Peoples, Hunter College - CUNY, Class of 2018
- Gabbie Rodriguez, City College of New York - CUNY, Class of 2021
- Dylan Tatom, John Jay College of Criminal Justice - CUNY, Class of 2019
- Melanie Thompson, Hunter College - CUNY, Class of 2021
- Mariama Toe, Buffalo State College - SUNY, Class of 2019
- King Tolen, III, City College of New York - CUNY, Class of 2019
- New York State OCFS Youth Advisory Board
- New Yorkers for Children Youth Advisory Board
We appreciate the thoughtful contributions, guidance, and dedication of our statewide coalition partners:
- Tydie Abreu, New York State Senate
- Osei Agyeman, State University of New York
- Allison Armour-Garb, New York State Education Department
- Kerri Barber, New York State Office of Children and Family Services
- Dorothy Corbett, Stony Brook University
- Shirley de Peña, City University of New York
- Christopher Fernando, New York State Education Department
- Sonia Gonzalez, New York City Administration for Children’s Services
- Candi Griffin-Jenkins, State University of New York
- Cheryl Hamilton, State University of New York
- Evonne Hamler-Cadet, State University of New York
- Barbara Irish, New York State Office of Children and Family Services
- Donya Jackson, New York State Education Department
- Kenneth Kirton, New York State Office of Children and Family Services
- Yolanda McBride, Children’s Aid
- Jennifer Pokempner, Juvenile Law Center
Special thanks to:
- The Honorable Deborah J. Glick, New York State Assembly, 66th District
- The Honorable Ellen Jaffee, New York State Assembly, 97th District
- Children’s Aid
- City University of New York
- Fostering Youth Success Alliance
- New York City Administration for Children’s Services
- New York State Department of Health
- New York State Education Department
- New York State Higher Education Services Corporation
- New York State Office of Children and Family Services
- State University of New York
Finally, we wish to acknowledge the generosity of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ira De Camp Foundation, and the Redlich Horwitz Foundation. Thank you for supporting the higher education goals of young people in care by underwriting this resource guide.
- Vision, Content Development, and Research: Jessica Maxwell
- Content Editing and Project Management: Maria Puglisi, Right Tree Consulting
- Creative Design: Behavior Design
- Website Development: Ryan Choi