The Problem

Every year in New York State, approximately 20,000 children and youth are living in the foster care system. In 2012, about 4,000 of those youth were between the ages of 18 and 21 and of that population 1,827 exited the system, nearly 75 percent of them discharged to independent living. Additionally, there were 2,243 young people 18 or older who remained in care, and nearly two- thirds of whom had been in care for over three years.

New Yorkers with only a high school degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed that those with a bachelor’s degree, and on average those with a bachelor’s degree or higher earn more than double than those with just a high school diploma.

We estimate that just 18 to 24 percent of college- age foster youth are enrolled in college, as compared to 60 percent of the general population in New York.

When youth age out of the foster care system many of them do so without the basic tools they need in order to transition to adulthood successfully. These youth are likely to be homeless, unemployed or underemployed, have unplanned pregnancies, or get into trouble with the law. They also often leave care, without having a supportive network or a caring adult in their life to help them navigate living independently.

For youth that are able to overcome the challenges of the system and graduate from high school while in care, going to college should be a natural transitional step.

The Solutions

If New York State is committed to preparing youth for adulthood it is imperative that youth in foster care are provided with the additional support and resources to achieve a college degree to take the next step to independence. We are advocating for a coherent, cohesive college success program for youth in foster care that has the following core components:

  • Website offering pre-college information.
  • Summer transition program for all participating incoming freshmen.
  • On-campus supports for all participating students:
    • Advisement and coaching –each student will have a designated advisor, who is experienced with foster care issues and how to navigate college;
    • Tutoring and academic assistance – advisors will direct students to existing campus resources, and additional help when necessary; and
    • Transition and aging-out support from advisors, particularly in the areas of housing and employment.
  • Year round housing until the student graduates.
  • Financial Aid Assistance
    • A simple, straightforward application and financial aid process, requiring minimal paperwork for foster youth.
    • Comprehensive financial aid, covering all tuition and living expenses, filling in any gaps left by existing public resources (such as TAP, Pell, and ETV).
    • Emergency fund for incidentals and crisis situations.


Take Action

Take the Pledge, sign on as a supporter of the Fostering Youth Success Alliance

Email us to get involved with one of the following alliance subcommittees:

  • Mobilization
  • Research & Best Practices
  • Communications