On Monday, March 22, 2021, National Foster Youth Institute hosted Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska (R-NE) and Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan (D-MI) to discuss the reintroduction of the bipartisan Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth Act.
There is a deficit in support for foster and homeless youth. Around 14% of foster youth complete their bachelor’s degree in 6 years. Meanwhile, this percentage increases at institutions of higher education that offer campus-based support programs for foster and homeless youth. Another major obstacle facing foster and homeless youth in postsecondary education is imposter syndrome. By building a community of supports through programs and mentors at the institutional level, the likelihood of success and feelings of being supported by foster and homeless youth increase exponentially.
The Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth Act would do two things. First, it would create a recognition program through the U.S. Department of Education to identify and highlight colleges and universities with tailored campus-based support programs for foster and homeless youth. Higher education institutions would apply on an annual and competitive basis and, if deserving, be designated “Foster and Homeless Youth-friendly” through the U.S. Department of Education. Over time, the hope is that this designation would serve as a resource for foster and homeless youth. Second, the bill would create a National Center for Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth. The center would provide best practices and technical assistance to postsecondary institutions to create or maintain and improve their campus-based support programs.
Congressman Bacon emphasized that “entering the adult world of working and paying bills is especially challenging for our foster and homeless youth as they transition out of a system of support to navigating the world on their own, and this program will help them identify where they can get support in seeking a higher education to work towards gainful, meaningful employment.” He went on to say that “As a foster to adopt parent myself, I understand the challenges facing our foster and homeless youth and know that this program could be life-changing for so many.”
The bill currently has 14 bipartisan cosponsors and is endorsed by a coalition of over 40 organizations, including CWLA, which includes higher education institutions, non-profits, and organizations engaged in foster care, adoption, and homelessness. Right now, organizations and individuals can lobby their representatives to cosponsor this bill to get it moved to the floor.