We know that a college degree opens a lot of doors for foster youth. Yet many young people in foster care do not view it as a viable option. Why? Often, they do not have positive role models in their lives. That’s why caregivers play a very important role. In fact, youth who discuss college at least once with their caregivers are over eight times more likely to attend a four-year college.
JBAY developed Turning Dreams into Degrees, a special curriculum for foster parents or caregivers to support youth in pursuing higher education. In 2019, Los Angeles County made this training mandatory for all caregivers who assist students in middle school or high school. As a result, caregivers widely reported feeling more informed about pathways to college and motivated to talk to youth about college.
Thanks to its success, this curriculum is expanding statewide! Through the Foster and Kinship Care Education (FKCE) program, this training will now be offered to over 20,000 caregivers and child welfare staff at 53 colleges across California.
Karen Lopez, a JBAY Youth Advocate, didn’t receive this level of support. While in foster care, she attended five different high schools. She didn’t have anyone who encouraged her to pursue college, until she met an online friend who attended community college at the time. Like many foster youth, Karen would have greatly benefited from caregivers who prioritized the value of academic achievement.
Associate Director of Education Jessica Petrass is excited about the impact this expanded program will have on the number of foster youth who enroll in college. “Regardless of their own educational experience, foster parents and caregivers will now feel more equipped and empowered to lead youth into post-secondary education.”