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Teen Conference: MI Universities Help College-Bound Foster Kids

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011   

LANSING, Mich. - Teen-agers in foster care from across the state will meet next week to learn about life skills, college opportunities and other life lessons which might not have been acquired through the foster-care system.

Getting to college can be challenging for any student, but for those in foster care, the odds can seem insurmountable. That's why eight Michigan universities are offering special programs and services for students coming out of foster care.

Some teens' first step on the road to college begins with the annual Michigan Teen Conference, a two-day event which will be held this year at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Laura Mitchell, who chairs the planning committee, says the conference next Tuesday and Wednesday offers workshops on basic life skills, for living independently once the teens age out of the system.

"How to prepare for a job interview and get a job; alternative and post-secondary education; what you need to do if you're looking for an apartment; navigating funding sources. We have a workshop on budgeting, on spirituality, on time management and organization."

Most of the new programs have been designed to support students who have aged out of the foster-care system as they go on to college, says Mitchell, director of services for children and families at the West Michigan office of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. The programs vary in terms of content, but she says they all include mentors and financial help.

"Things like a mentor on campus, year-round housing, some additional financial incentives and things like, hygiene supplies or sheets and towel and all of that, to help students get established."

Sometimes, Mitchell says, teens' transitional living arrangements prevent teens from forming relationships with adults who can mentor them and teach these skills.

More than 125 teens are expected to attend next week's conference. Registration is open through Friday. More information and a registration form is online at michfed.org.


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