Chapter 6Campus Policy Recommendations
Data collection and tracking policies allow colleges and universities to identify and better serve students who are in or have been in foster care. School policies and procedures should protect privacy, while still recognizing the importance of student identification in connecting youth with a foster care history to the information and supports they need to keep pace with their college peers in the general population.
Data analysis also affords schools the ability to fine tune programs and supports for this special population including focusing on their retention and successful academic completion. It is recommended that schools implement data collection and tracking policies that do the following:
- Track data on the number of students with a foster care experience.
- Provide opportunities for youth to voluntarily identify as having a foster care history and explain to them why the information is being requested.
- Once a student self-identifies as having experienced the foster care system, capture and analyze the following data:
- College retention and academic progress to evaluate and inform program improvements;
- Academic progress metrics including: GPA, credit accumulation, progress towards graduation, persistence, and enrollment in remedial classes;
- Student use and evaluation of campus support programs and resources; and,
- Financial aid utilization (state and federal).
- Self-identification also should be used to trigger consideration for specialized programs that support students on non-traditional tracks, or provide additional academic assistance, such as opportunity programs and CUNY ASAP.
- Conduct an annual online survey of enrolled students with a foster care background to collect qualitative data that assesses their campus experiences and ongoing needs.
Schools are encouraged to develop data collection and tracking policies in collaboration with students in foster care and alumni. Inclusion is a best practice to surface potentially sensitive issues related to student confidentiality and disclosure choices. Some students may not wish to reveal their foster care history due to a fear of being stigmatized, or because they don’t fully understand what data will be used, for what purpose, or how it will be shared. To support data collection policies and plans, it is recommended that schools develop a companion communication strategy that is informed by student and alumni feedback. Consider including FAQs and messages that address common student concerns and issues with self-identification. Highlight the value of data-driven program development and how it ultimately benefits young people served.