Expanding College Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care

Paul Larrabee
For Immediate Release:
February 2, 2016


Proposal Seeks $4.5 Million to Double College Opportunities for Youth in Care

Based on a successful launch in 2015, providing 352 youth with ties to the state’s foster care system to access to resources supporting their pursuit of a college degree, advocates will be at the Capitol today as part of an effort to double the number of opportunities at public and private universities and colleges across New York.

The coalition, led by the Fostering Youth Success Alliance (FYSA), is composed of 18 community-based organizations from every corner of New York State. The fledgling program was endorsed by several notable voices last year such as the late Judith Kaye, an unabashed supporter of investing in youth, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. 

Members of FYSA were greatly encouraged by the recently released proposed Executive Budget, which replicated last year’s funding for the Fostering Youth Success Initiative. They are seeking to build on that and greatly expand the program’s capacity to put college success within reach of hundreds more young adults connected to the foster care system. Specifically, the coalition wants to double the number of youth served by increasing the budget to $4.5 million.

“Investment in higher education opportunities for our state’s youth is a longstanding priority for the Assembly Majority conference. Last year’s investment of $1.5 million in the Fostering Youth Success Initiative got the program rolling thanks to the leadership of the Assembly Majority and the tireless efforts of our Higher Education Chair, Assembly member Deborah Glick. Now that it is underway, we will work to improve upon it, expand its impact and create additional opportunities for the more than 4,000 youth in care of college age,” said Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Governor Cuomo sounded a clear signal with his proposed budget that youth in foster care can continue to expect New York State to recognize its parent-like role for thousands of youth in foster care and support their higher education aspirations. We are energized to work with many legislators to grow the Fostering Youth Success Initiative and make it a program we can all be proud of,” said Jessica Maxwell, FYSA Coordinator for The Children’s Aid Society. 

“I believe this is an important program and these supports are vital for the success of young people who have aged out of foster care,” Assembly member Deborah Glick said.

“Helping youth successfully transition from the foster care system to college by providing them essential programs and services should continue to be a top priority. That is why we are pushing for this additional funding to build upon the foundation that was created in 2015,” Assembly member Donna Lupardo said.

“This program will have a very positive outcome for minorities in foster care, as they represent a higher proportion of the foster population,”  Assembly member Marcos Crespo said.   “This funding is necessary to provide the youth of the city and elsewhere who are in foster care a clearer path to education and, ultimately, to a successful, productive life as adults.”   

“The Fostering Youth Success Initiative has been a key component in our efforts to expand access to SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Programs,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “As a result of last year’s support, SUNY was able to enhance services in this important evidence-based program for nearly 200 foster care students in 2015. We look forward to ensuring access for even more students this year.”

Last year’s efforts were greatly bolstered by support from former Chief Judge Judith Kaye who was then Chair of the State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. Her passing was a great loss for all of New York but especially children and youth in foster care. But her support lives on.

“The Commission will continue to champion the need for New York to do more for children in foster care. Too many young people leave foster care ill prepared to survive, let alone succeed in today’s world. Education, especially a college degree, is of vital importance. These young people need more than tuition assistance. The Governor’s budget is a good first step. More investment is needed to provide the supports these young men and women require to realize their dreams,” said Kathleen DeCataldo, executive director at the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children.

To honor former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s commitment to improve the lives and life chances of the children who come before the New York State Courts, a scholarship fund has been established at the request of the Kaye family. The Judith S. Kaye Scholarship will support youth in foster care who are attending college. (www.JudithKayeScholarship.com)

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Foster Care by the Numbers

In New York State:

  • 20,000 children and youth are in foster care of which 40 percent are adolescents and young adults (age 14 and above);
  • 4,000 youth are of college age; and between 3-10 percent  get their degrees;
  • 352 college students are being served through the Foster Youth Success College Initiative at 68 New York-based colleges; representing 31 SUNY;  14 CUNY and 23 Independent Colleges and Universities.
  • 60 percent of the general population attends college after high school; nationally, youth in care attend at a rate of approximately 20 percent.
  • People with a bachelor’s degree in New York earn about twice as much annually as those with only a high school diploma.

Members of the FYSA Steering Committee are:

Care Management Coalition of Western NY (http://cmcwny.org/ )
Region – Buffalo

The Children’s Aid Society (http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/ )
Region – New York

Council of Family & Child Caring Agencies (http://www.cofcca.org/ )
Region – Statewide

Community Service Society of New York (http://www.cssny.org/ )
Region – New York

Elmcrest Children’s Center (http://www.elmcrest.org/ )
Region – Syracuse

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (http://www.fpwa.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html )
Region – New York

FEGS Health & Human Services (http://www.fegs.org/ )
Region – New York

Good Shepherd Services (http://www.goodshepherds.org/ )
Region – New York

Graham Windham (http://www.graham-windham.org/ )
Region – New York

Hillside Family Agencies (http://www.hillside.com/ )
Region – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse

Hope for Youth (www.hfyny.org )
Region – Nassau & Suffolk

New Directions for Youth & Family Services (http://fosteringgood.org/ )
Region – Buffalo

New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children (http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/justiceforchildren/ )
Region - Statewide

New Yorkers for Children (http://newyorkersforchildren.org/ )
Region – New York

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (http://www.scaany.org/ )
Region – Statewide

Westchester Children’s Association (http://www.wca4kids.org/ )
Region – Westchester

Youth In Progress (http://www.youthinprogress.org/ )
Region – Statewide

Youth Power (www.youthpowerny.org )
Region – Statewide

The Children’s Aid Society is an independent, nonprofit organization established to serve the children of New York City. Our mission is to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive. We do this by providing comprehensive supports to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. Founded in 1853, it is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies, serving New York’s neediest children. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics and camps. For additional information, please call Anthony Ramos at (212) 949-4938/ (917) 204-8214, email anthonyr@childrensaidsociety.org or visit www.childrensaidsociety.org.