The U.S. Department of Education today released a new toolkit to inspire and support current and former foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Foster Care Transition Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood.
Currently, there are over 400,000 children and youth in America’s foster care system and every year, more than 23,000 youth age out of the system, never having found the security of a permanent home.
“Many foster youth lack stable residences and strong support structures and face tremendous barriers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This toolkit offers practical tips on navigating those challenges – with education as the foundation.”
“For so many students, higher education can be a ticket to the middle class, but young people who have spent time in or are aging out of the foster care system face systemic barriers that can make it difficult to apply, attend, and graduate from college,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. “In Congress, I have been working on ways to break down barriers for foster youth from early childhood to higher education, and I’m glad to see the Department take this positive step to ensure foster youth get the information, resources, and supports they need to succeed in college and in life.”
The Education Department recognizes that a high-quality education can help support foster youth achieve life success despite past experiences with abuse, neglect, separation and other barriers.
The toolkit is aimed at helping youth in foster care and those who have aged out of the system successfully move into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education and set out on a career with personal fulfillment. Readers will find advice on:
- Financial aid and money management.
- Mentoring opportunities.
- Job and career support.
- Health care resources.
- Transportation options. And,
- Housing and food benefits.
In addition, the toolkit includes numerous examples of existing efforts that assist foster youth, including:
- A toolkit developed by FosterClub that helps define goals, build a support team, identify resources, refine skills, and map out a plan for post-foster care life.
- A map of states with tuition waivers and vouchers for current and former foster youth and a list of foster care independent programs available nationwide.
- Information on Talent Search, Upward Bound and Gear Up, which provide extracurricular activities that can help expose foster youth to collegiate life and make their applications more attractive to colleges and universities.
- Guidance on how to build a resume, information on career-oriented training programs and a list of community based resources helpful in applying for a job. And,
- A list of mentoring organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the My Brother’s Keeper Program.
While the toolkit is written for foster youth, it’s also meant to be a resource for caseworkers, care givers, teachers and mentors to help foster youth realize their dreams.
The Foster Care Transition Toolkit was designed by the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and incorporates input from practitioners and current and former foster youth.It was released as a part of National Foster Care Month and in conjunction with the first ever White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon.
The Hackathon brought together child welfare leaders, non-profit organizations, philanthropies, and foster care families and alumni, as well as engineers, technologists, and other leaders from the technology sector to “hack” innovative solutions for some of our most pressing issues in the foster care system.
The toolkit will be distributed through social media, foster care groups, advocates, teachers, school counselors and other stakeholders.