Transition From Foster Care to College is a Target 2020 California Award winning project. Partnering with Extended Opportunities Program & Services, City Programs and Admissions and Records of Chabot College, Transition from Foster Care to College seeks to establish a mentorship/ counseling program that would help foster care children properly transition into college life.
Mobilize.org Featured Blogger Haley Samsel checked in with one of the founders, Ralph Hall, to learn more about his work.
What inspired you to look into a counseling program for foster care children entering college?
My biggest motivation around support for foster youth entering college is my personal experience. I was in foster care for the majority of my life and when it was time for me to navigate college, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t want that same fate for other foster youth. I understand that the statistics of foster youth retention and graduation rates are staggering as they are overwhelming and I felt that it was my duty to assist in minimizing the disparities.
How is the transition from living at home to college life different for foster care children as opposed to their classmates from traditional homes?
Most foster youth don’t know what it means to have a home. They live in institutions funded by the federal government. They move from house to house and building to building. Only the fortunate knows what it means to be placed in a home. To get to your question, the transition is most difficult. Most youth are literally kicked out of their placements when they turn 18 years old. Now that California has a new law, AB12, extending foster care to 21, some things will look different.
But, for the most part, these students entering college are lacking emotional support as well as family support. Some youth don’t think they belong in college and therefore self sabotage their opportunities. And what was big for me, and I’m sure many other foster youth, due to frequent placement change, foster youth have a difficult time at getting a foundation in education because they are constantly switching schools. Some students would rather drop out of school than take remedial courses. On the other hand, in traditional homes, students receive support from their community and families up until the age of 27. This allows room for era, mistakes, opportunities and risk and well as chances. These are not afforded to foster youth. They have to get it right the first time because they fear homelessness.
What is the single most pressing issue facing foster care children as they adjust to the responsibilities of higher education and adult life?
Homelessness. Students can’t do well in school if they do not have a place to go. There are basic needs that any human needs for survival. Shelter, food and water and clothing. Foster youth struggle with obtaining all three.
Have your goals changed since starting the project? If so, how?
My goals have yet to change. If they did, I would have to say to serve more youth. I have big dreams and goals for every student we serve
Haley Samsel is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. She is a high school sophomore who lives in Plano, Texas, which gives her a pretty unique view (in her opinion) on politics and Millennial issues. Outside of the Millennial Report, Haley enjoys playing basketball, reading biographies and watching cooking competition shows, among other things.