Colleges and universities are encouraged to offer staff training that provides a basic understanding of the child welfare system and explains the common challenges that may affect the academic success of students who have experienced foster care. Core training curriculum can be adapted to reflect the different roles and duties of campus professionals who come into contact with students from foster care (i.e., financial aid officers, academic advisors, professors, guidance counselors, resident advisors, and support program staff). At a minimum, all staff should receive training that provides information in the following areas:
- A contextual overview of the New York State child welfare system.
- The needs and issues facing older youth in foster care, in particular their experiences as they transition from the system, (aka “age out”).
- How trauma impacts youth in the child welfare system, particularly how it adversely affects their adjustment to college and pursuing academic success.
- How to create a space that supports students who have been in foster care, including how to respect their confidentiality regarding disclosing private information.
- Awareness of available on-campus resources and/or campus liaisons assigned to provide information and navigational support to connect foster youth to specific resources.
- Knowledge of all campus policies and programs that serve current or former foster youth.
To be most effective, training curricula should be developed in collaboration with child welfare professionals as well as current and former youth in foster care. Consider inviting student advocates to kick-off the training (or incorporate a video) by briefly sharing their real-life experiences to inspire staff commitment to making positive changes on campus.