January 28, 2020
New York’s Foster Youth Seek $7.5 Million to Support Students Pursuing a College Degree
Executive Budget Includes $6 Million; Advocates Seek Legislative Support for Full Funding to Ensure Youth in Care Successfully Complete College
More than 80 foster youth, alumni and advocates traveled to Albany on Tuesday, January 28 to ask legislators and officials to continue supporting the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI). This program currently provides financial, academic and other supports to nearly 1,000 youth in foster care statewide. The FY 2020-21 Executive Budget included $6 million but New York’s foster youth are requesting an additional $1.5 million from the State Legislature for a total of $7.5 million in funding. This will allow the program to maintain support for students already enrolled, while also meeting the growing number of eligible students who are expected to seek FYCSI support starting September 2020.
Fostering Youth Success Alliance (FYSA) Director Jasmine Hooper said, “Our legislators recognized the need to support New York’s foster youth back in 2015-16 when FYCSI first launched, and now we’re asking the program’s champions to once again provide financial relief to hundreds of students across the state. The Senate and Assembly have been critical partners since day one, and as the program continues to grow and more students seek financial support, we need to ensure that our foster youth have access to academic opportunity.”
In addition to the $7.5 million to fully fund the existing program, advocates are asking legislators and state officials to expand the list of eligible services to include medical expenses, as well as intersession and summer housing, and to help disseminate the funding more quickly to SUNY, CUNY and independent and private colleges participating in the program.
Nearly 1,200 youth in foster care will be eligible to access support available through FYCSI in FY 2020-2021, and the number of SUNY, CUNY, independent and private colleges that students are attending has also grown – from 78 different schools in 2018-19, to more than 100 different colleges across the state this academic year.
FYSA Advocate and University at Albany Student Nikolas Vasquez said, “FYCSI has provided the opportunity to find my passion while studying at UAlbany, including helping launch the college’s Fostering Leaders of Our World (FLOW). I look forward to graduation in 2021, and hope that our elected officials continue to fund this initiative. Among the important issues facing foster youth is support for stable housing – many do not have a place to return to during winter holidays, summer recess and other breaks throughout the year.”
FYSA Advocate and Stony Brook University Graduate Trenae Ka said, “I knew I wanted to go to college and at Stony Brook, I was able to receive FYCSI funding, which alleviated some of my financial stress and allowed me to focus on my education. Foster youth already face enough obstacles, and worrying about how to pay for school shouldn’t be one of them. Because of FYCSI, I was able to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and I am now pursuing my Masters in Public Policy. Having more students benefit from this funding can create a shift in the narrative that foster youth do not go to college and become successful.”
In addition, advocates announced a new resource guide for New York State colleges and universities, which will be coming soon and available on February 11. The guide will help campus leadership understand and address the unique and complex needs of youth in with a foster care background.
The Fostering Youth Success Alliance is a statewide advocacy group that promotes responsive policies and programs offering young people with a foster care background every opportunity to set higher expectations and achieve their goals. Learn more at: www.fysany.org
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: www.childrensaidnyc.org