Foster Youth Seek Continued Support for College Opportunities

Paul Larrabee
For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2018



Executive Budget Proposal Falls Short of Need; Advocates Seek Legislative Support to Ensure Youth in Care Successfully Complete College

Hundreds of college-age foster youth from across New York traveled to Albany on Tuesday, January 29 to ask legislators and state officials to continue supporting the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI). In total, the program requires resources of $6 million in the 2019-20 state budget to maintain support for 570 students in pursuit of their higher education aspirations across all four years of undergraduate study.

Yolanda McBride, a FYCSI Advocate and Director of Public Policy at Children’s Aid New York, said: “In 2015, state leaders provided the first class of 352 foster youth the opportunity to attend college. Today, students on 78 different public and private college campuses making progress toward their degrees may be unable to continue due to the lack of funding in the 2019-20 school year. Additionally, without the continuation of these critical resources, this year’s freshman class may never even have the chance to get started.”

The program will require an additional $4.5 million to sustain the existing program.

In addition, advocates are asking legislators and state officials to:

  • Expand program eligibility to include access to financial support for all foster youth enrolled in CUNY, SUNY and private universities;
  • Increase flexibility to vary awards based on student financial need; and
  • Release funds to coincide with the financial aid packaging for students at the start of the academic year.

Only one in five college-age foster youth ever set foot on a college campus and less than three percent ever graduate.

“New Yorkers have a responsibility to provide these youth with a path to a brighter future by supporting their pursuit of higher education,” McBride said.

Mariama Toe, a Buffalo State College senior said: “FYCSI has been a game changer. To me, it means everything.  Because of it, I’m able to say I am graduating in May.  People can give you words of encouragement but they cannot give you the funding to get there.”

Ericka Francois, a State University of New York at New Paltz junior said: “After completing my associate’s degree at LaGuardia Community College, I enrolled at New Paltz to study journalism. FYCSI provided opportunity as I started my college experience, and today is a critical link to achieving my bachelor’s degree. I am determined to be a journalist where the search for meaningful truth starts fresh each day.

Melanie Thompson, a Hunter College sophomore said: “As a youth life throws you challenges. For many foster youth our challenges are doubled. Fortunately, I was able to graduate with my associate’s degree from Bronx Community College, and am now enrolled as a social work student at Hunter College. None of this would be possible with FYCSI. When all else failed, the program provided support and resources needed to achieve academic success.”

Angelina Cremins, a St. John Fisher College senior said: “I grew up in Central New York. Following graduation, it’s my hope to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to a criminal justice environment in the Rochester area. For me, FYCSI funding combined with work study opportunities helped me pool the resources needed to earn and complete my degree.”



Foster Care Facts

In New York State:

  • 16,000 children and youth are in foster care, of which 40 percent are adolescents and young adults (age 14 and above);
  • 1,200 youth are of college-age; and approximately three percent earn their degrees;
  • 570 college students are being served through the Foster Youth College Success Initiative at this time at SUNY, CUNY and private colleges; 
  • 60 percent of the general population attends college after high school; nationally, youth in care attend at a rate of approximately 20 percent; and
  • 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:

Albany’s LaSalle School (
Region – Albany

Berkshire Farm Center & Services For Youth (
Region – Upstate New York

Children’s Aid (
Region – New York

Council of Family & Child Caring Agencies (
Region – Statewide

The Door (
Region – New York

Elmcrest Children’s Center (
Region – Syracuse

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (
Region – New York

Forestdale (
Region – New York City

Good Shepherd Services (
Region – New York

Graham Windham (
Region – New York

HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services
Region – New York City

Hillside Family Agencies (
Region – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse

Hope for Youth (
Region – Nassau & Suffolk

Region – New York

Lawyers for Children (
Region – New York

The Legal Aid Society (
Region – New York City

New Directions for Youth & Family Services (
Region – Buffalo

New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children (
Region – Statewide

New Yorkers for Children (
Region – New York

Northeast Parent & Child Society Parsons Child & Family Center (
Region – North Country, Capital Region, Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, Central NY, Western Southern Tier

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (
Region – Statewide

Sheltering Arms Children’s Services (
Region – New York

Westchester Children’s Association (
Region – Westchester

Youth Power (
Region – Statewide

Children’s Aid 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. Learn more at