College-Bound Ohio Foster Youths Face Barriers Accessing Resources
Monday, May 15, 2023
Foster youths transitioning to adulthood are being left behind when it comes to college degree attainment and resources.
New data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that in 2021, 12% of youths with experience in foster care in Ohio were enrolled in college or technical school - and just 4% accessed financial assistance, far less than the national average.
Director and Chief of Police at Wright State University Kurt Holden is a former foster youth.
He said graduating college and receiving a master's degree was a difficult but rewarding journey - one he feels the state should help make easier for foster youths as soon as they start filling out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.
"Graduating college gave me a sense of accomplishment, kind of broke that glass ceiling," said Holden. "Because when I was in foster care, I was told that there was a 97% failure rate. I was able to have some stability with housing and food down the road, and I was able to succeed. It opened up a lot of doors."
Advocates are calling on lawmakers to enact legislation that would waive tuition, fees, and room
and board to any institution of higher education in Ohio for foster youths.
Kim Eckhart - the interim director of the Children's Defense Fund Ohio - explained that the bipartisan Foster-to-College Scholarship Act introduced this year by House lawmakers would increase the number of foster youths who complete college and achieve financial stability earlier in life.
"Teenagers would be able to just know that they have a scholarship available to them if they want to pursue post-secondary education," said Eckhart. "And that could be a two-year program, a technical program, anything that gives them access to be able to have a career and financial stability as an adult."
Every year, around one thousand Ohio youths age out of foster care without the tools and support needed to transition into adulthood on their own, according to Children's Defense Fund Ohio.
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