Chapter 6Campus Policy Recommendations
Students who are currently in or have recently exited foster care may experience housing instability or lack a place to stay to during school breaks and holidays. For these students, the associated stress, anxiety, and high risk of homelessness often undermine their ability to focus on their studies. Colleges and universities can support students from foster care by understanding and addressing their unique needs and housing challenges. The following policy recommendations promote more stable, consistent living arrangements for youth from foster care to minimize disruption and help them concentrate on achieving their higher education goals.
Offer current and former foster youth a priority assignment designation for on-campus or campus provided housing. Some states, such as California, have made this a provision by law1, however colleges and universities can implement this policy on their own to meet the special housing needs of youth in foster care.
For young people who may not have family or a home to return to during semester breaks and holidays, the provision of year-round stable housing supports student success. For example, the CUNY/ACS Fostering Success Initiative allows young people in the New York City foster care system to live in a CUNY dorm year-round until they graduate. Additionally, participating students receive comprehensive wraparound supports from college success advisors and tutors to help them achieve academic success.
Develop customized housing plans and resource directories to connect students to more stable living arrangements. This support is especially important for schools that do not provide on-campus housing. Priority recommendations include:
- Institute a campus-wide policy that requires the development of student housing plans to ensure youth with a foster care background have appropriate living arrangements during and between academic terms.
- Assign campus staff to help connect students to institutionally owned or operated housing during school breaks, or to identify and refer students in need to available community-based, short-term housing options.
- Consistently promote campus housing assistance and opportunities through social media and other outreach strategies to ensure students are aware of how to access available resources and supports.
- Allocate a pool of funds to cover emergency housing arrangements for students when there are no available on-campus or community-based options.