College Bridge Program for Former Fosters

In 2014, I worked with an admissions counselor at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay to design a program which would increase the college application rates, retention rates, GPS’s and graduation rates of former foster youth.

This program was looked at by many, including individuals at NWTC. It was decided the resources were not there to make it work.

I am sharing the research I did, and program I designed, below for use by others who are considering making similar programs in their areas.

UW- Green Bay College Bridge Proposal

Document Created by Elizabeth Steffel under guidance of Ron Morris

Important fact to remember when reading this document.  In 2012, 399,546 children were in foster care (The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System [AFCARS], 2013).  Of the 399,546 children in foster care, 241,254 were either reunified with their families or aged out of the system.  Another 101,719 were in temporary placements awaiting adoption, and only 52,039 were adopted (AFCARS, 2012). 

Problem Statement

            2014 is a time in which the effort put into increasing the post-secondary education of its population will determine the success or failure of the United States, its citizens, and the economy (Executive Office of the President, 2014; Leonhardt, 2014; Marklein, 2012).  This is a time in which the labor market is calling for more skilled workers, and U.S. colleges are not producing them fast enough (Executive Office of the President; 2014; Leonhardt, 2014; Marklein, 2012).  If universities continue to produce the same amount of degree holders each year, by 2025, the country will need 20 million more individuals with college degrees than had been produced (Marklein, 2012). This is a time in which Wisconsin and Northeast Wisconsin need to increase the educational attainment of their residents or face future job disparities and economic loss.

            Current census data shows that 26.4% of Wisconsin residents age 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is 2% lower than the national average of 28.5% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). In Northeast Wisconsin, 19% of residents over the age of 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher (UW-Oshkosh, 2011).

            Extensive research into the enrollment rates and degree attainment of students at universities indicate that, at the national level, minority students, low income students, first generation students, and former foster youth enroll in post-secondary education at drastically low levels and that the majority of those who attend college drop out without finishing their degree (Balemian, 2013; Chapin, 2012; Deparle, 2012; Haskins, 2012; Luhby, 2011; Mc.Grath, 2009; Pecora et al., 2006; Radford, 2013; The Chronicle of Higher Education [CHE], 2011; Tough, 2014; U.S. Census Bureau, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). In Wisconsin, more minority students drop out of college than their cohorts do at the national level (CHE, 2011).  At UWGB, students drop out at a higher percentage than their equivalent cohorts at the state and national level (CHE, 2011). 

            Consequences of the state of Wisconsin having a low rate of post-secondary education completion are that the state’s citizens are not equipped to be a viable workforce for future employment, and low degree attainment is creating an environment in which individuals will become ever more dependent upon social welfare systems.  By 2020, 65% of American jobs will require post-secondary degrees of two years or higher (Lumina Foundation, 2013).  At this current time, only 39.6% of Wisconsin adults have a two year degree or higher (Lumina Foundation, 2013).  Unless Wisconsin and its municipalities take action towards increasing its available workers in order to meet this job demand, more manufacturing industries and technology-related jobs will leave the state due to Wisconsin’s inability to provide companies with workers.

            Data analysis illustrates that, in order for UWGB and Northeast Wisconsin to increase the educational attainment of their population and eliminate the racial and income-based disparities within its university system, the university must work to systematically approach and correct the social and educational barriers that lead to the poor college graduation rates of its minority, low income, first generation, and former foster care students. 

This program model is designed to serve the population with the poorest social, educational, and economic outcomes. Foster youth.

Former Foster Youth College Statistics

            Between 40%- 50% of foster youth earn a high school degree, less than 20% of former foster youth enroll in higher education, and only 2% of those youth obtain a college degree (Juvenile Law Center [JLC], 2014).Other studies found that two-fifths of former foster youth attended some form of post-secondary education, 20.6% of them completed their education, and only 2.7% of former foster youth obtain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 33 (Pecora et al., 2006).   Recent studies revealed that most former foster youth drop out of college during the first year (Day, Dworsky, Fogarty, & Damashek, A., 2011;  Day, Ruebschleger, Dworsky, Damashek, & Fogarty, 2012; Kirk & Day, 2011; Unrau, Font, & Rawls, 2012).

            It is important to note that more than half of foster children are minorities (Fostering Media Connections, 2012; Hill, 2006; Padilla & Summers, 2011). Black and Native American youth make up more than half the population of foster youth followed by Hispanic children and then White youth (Fostering Media Connections, 2012; Lansing, 2014; Padilla & Summers, 2011).

Consequences and Expenses of an Uneducated Foster Population

            Studies consistently find that individuals who do not obtain a post-secondary education are more likely to become involved in criminal behavior, have poor health, be chronically unemployed, and dependent upon social welfare systems (Alliance for Excellence Education, 2011).  Employers pay individuals with post-secondary education a higher wage and are willing to invest more into keeping those individuals within the company (Van, 2011). When an employee is paid a livable wage he or she does not need to rely on social services such as housing and food stamps to survive. (Van, 2011).   Low wages are linked to mental health problems and a high utilization of social welfare systems (Coffee, 2003; Courtney & Dworsky, 2006; Dodson, & Albelda, 2012; Van, 2011). 

            The price of a lack of education, low earnings, and their resulting cost on society is observable when analyzing the social statistics of former foster youth.  Former foster youth have high levels of unemployment (Children’s Rights, 2013; Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), low levels of educational achievement (Blome, 1997; Courtney & Dworsky, 2006; Pecora, 2006; Westat, 1991), a high utilization rate of social welfare systems (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), and make up 80% of the current prison population (Children’s Rights, 2013; Nunn, 2012). 

            A longitudinal study of the adult outcomes of 732 former foster youth in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin found that by the time the youth in the study reached the age of 19, 90% of the participants reported having had a job within the previous year, but only 40% were employed at the time of the study (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006). Of those former foster youth who were employed, 90% made less than $10,000 a year, and three-quarters made less than $5,000 a year (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006).  The study discovered that 48.5% of the 19-year-old females and 24.5% of the 19-year-old male participants had relied on government assistant programs such as Food Stamps, public housing, rental assistance, TANF, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), emergency assistance payments, and other general assistance payments during the first two years following their emancipation from the foster system (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006).

            Stangler (2013) revealed that the United States spends an average of $300,000 per former foster youth during their adult life, on public assistance and incarceration costs.  With an average of 27,000 foster youth leaving the system each year (Stein, 2012), the estimated cost former foster youth who age out of the system in 2014 will have on the United States’ social welfare and prison system is $8,100,000,000 over the course of their adult lives.

            Brown County and the State of Wisconsin cannot afford to support the number of individuals who, in the near future, will be unemployed due to lack of education.  If 27,000 youth who lack education will cost the U.S. $8,100,000,000 over the course of their adult lives, how much will the 60% of Wisconsin’s population who will not hold a post-secondary degree in 2020 cost?

Summer Bridge Program & Foster Program Research  

            During the last two months Elizabeth Steffel has conducted extensive research into college programs which have improved the college retention and graduation rates of former foster youth.   Very few programs for foster youth exist. Those that do have been successful but ate in their first years of operation so they are not well publicized.  College bridge programs targeting minority youth are in existence and have been proven successful.  The following is a description of the foster college programs and the college bridge programs for minority youth.  UWGB’s proposed Fostering Phuture’s Program will be a combination of these two successful models.

Foster Youth College Programs

              FAME- Fostering Academics and Mentoring Excellence Michigan State University.   This program was the first Foster Care Specific outreach program with mentoring, scholarships and such in Michigan and possibly in the nation.  This program was founded by Dr. Angelique Day (1-313-577-4407;   ) and Gary Anderson (1-517-432-4092).   It took them four years of “Duct Tape Funding” before the University finally recognized it as a good program.  Since then it has gained National Recognition. They are also featured in the state news 2 to 3 times a year.  In 2012 they got their state appropriations.  They now have a 3 year grant from United Way.  Other universities are copying the program in Michigan and they formed a Fostering Connections Coalition.  They compare foster care work and results.

                         The Transition to Independence Program. Wayne State University, MI.
Angelique was hired by Wayne State to recreate the foster care program she made at Michigan.  During the first year of operation they had a foster care retention rate of The 52.9 and in the second year they had a 69.7 retention rate of former fosters.  She said this is a huge accomplishment since the students are from downtown Detroit where only 25% of all students finish high school and all the university students come unprepared.  She said they were able to obtain considerable Pell Grant Funding because of the demographic of former fosters they work with there being predominantly minority.

                         UW-Stout Fostering Connections.  Contact Name:  Greta Munns

Phone: 715-579-1291.  Department of Children and Families is funding them and UW-Oshkosh.  Small grant.  I spoke with Greta Munns, the head of their program and she gave me the following information.   Stout has a summer camp for current foster youth in middle school and high school.  They can only take on 10 students a year.  During their college education the former fosters are connected to community resources and are given hygiene materials, laundry soap, care packages are waiting for them in the dorms on their first and they had lots of nonperishable foods, Lamps sheets, blankets and such came from local churches. During Finals week they are going to do care packages again.   They also have textbooks and computers included in tuition for them. They have an emergency supply that they use for things like “Art supplies” that are not covered in other tuition.  Threw a baby shower for one of their pregnant moms.  Greta stated that they found that the foster youth in the program form the best relations with staff who were former foster youth and with other former foster youth who are current students.    Greta reported improved college retention rates of their program participants.

College Bridge Program Research

            Studies analyzing the institutions in which dropout rates are the highest and lowest found that small colleges have the lowest dropout rates (Ryan, 2004; Titus, 2004), and that universities with part-time staff have high dropout rates (Ehrenberg & Zhang, 2005; Schibik & Harrington, 2004), while racial minorities drop out at a higher rate in institutions in which there are few minorities (Chen, 2012), and universities that offer Pell Grants and other financial aid which reduces a student’s net tuition have lower dropout rates (Chen, 2012).

            Research investigating universities at which student retention rates were high found that these institutions placed a high priority on student support programs such as writing coaches, tutors, mental health services, remedial language courses, remedial math courses, resume/career workshops, and summer college preparatory programs (Astin, 1993; Blum, & Jarrat, 2014, Chen, 2012; Day, et, al., 2011; Day, et, al., 2012; Kirk & Day, 2011; Rath, Rock & Laferriere, 2013; Rugg, 1982; Unrau, et. al., 2012).  College dropout rates are highest during the first year, and universities which have developed student service programs which specifically target and work with first year students have higher college completion rates (Chen, 2012).

            Investigation into high racial minority dropout rates found that these students, including those who enter college unprepared for the academic load, succeed when they have close peer relations with other students and faculty (Matthews, 2011), have adequate student service support (Chen, 2012), and receive help from advisors (Gonzales, 2012; Morrison, 1973). One study into the University of Southern California (USC) and the Virginia Common Wealth University (VCW) in graduating minority students at the highest rates in the nation found that their Hispanic (Nguyen, Ward, Engle, 2012) and African-American students (Nguyen et, al., 2012) benefited from one-on-one interaction with their advisors every month, coupled with a restrictive selection of courses.

            Other studies into the causes of high minority student dropout rates found that students who drop out of college did so due to a lack of funding for school, a lack of motivation to do well, and a shortage of skills to overcome academic obstacles (Mattison, 2013).  The consistent theme through all research as to why students drop out of college suggests that a lack of connection to other students, faculty, and minimal student services are the main contributing factors (Astin, 1993; Blum, & Jarrat, 2014; Chen, 2012; Day, et, al., 2011; Day, et, al., 2012; Kirk & Day, 2011; Matthews, 2011; Mattison; 2013; Morrison, 1973; Nguyen, et, al., 2012; Rath, Rock & Laferriere, 2013; Rugg, 1982; Unrau, et. al., 2012). The numerous studies linking low college dropout rates to universities which invest time and money into student service programs has led to a national push for community colleges and four-year universities to develop more student service programs for their student body, with a focus on first-year students (Executive Office of the President, 2014; Rath, et al., 2013; The White House, 2013)  In January 2014, the Executive Office of the President took action to increase the college enrollment and graduation rates of low income and first generation minority youth (Executive Office of the President, 2014). 

Summer Bridge Program and Fostering Phuture’s Hypothesis and Intervention

            UWGB has a higher percentage rate of minorities failing to complete their college education than is found at the state and national level (CHE, 2011).  When analyzing the success rates of other universities at improving the college completion rates of their minority populations, UWGB should be able to improve its minority student college completion rate by constructing a few specific program initiatives.  If UWGB were to create a program designed to help incoming freshmen identify academic weaknesses, link the students to their advisors, create an environment in which minority students can easily meet and foster relationships with other minority students, and receive intensive student support services throughout their freshmen year, the minority student dropout rates should decrease.  If UWGB were to also design a more restrictive course selection process, students should be able to complete their degrees within four years at a higher rate than the current four-year graduation attainment rate of 27.4%.

            Using evidence-based-research, UWGB would be able to meet the aforementioned goals of increasing minority student college completion rates if it were to create a summer bridge program coupled with a first-year-student program working to foster a sense of community amongst these students and their university while simultaneously connecting the students to numerous academic support systems.

            Summer bridge programs are three to seven week university-based classes, or summer camps, which are designed to help incoming freshmen who are of a racial minority, from a low income family, are former foster youth, or are first generation college students, to prepare academically, mentally, and socially for their first year of college (Auburn University, 2012; Cabrera, Miner & Milem, 2013; Rochester Institute of Technology; 2013; Ewoldt, 2014).  Due to the relatively recent emergence of summer bridge programs, few longitudinal studies have been done analyzing the long-term success rates of these programs (Cabrera et al., 2013). The studies which do exist show that students who participate in these programs do tend to have a higher involvement in their university and are more motivated to succeed academically (Kirk & Day, 2011; Mitchel, 2014; Outlaw, 2008).  One study found that universities with the highest retention rates of students had summer bridge programs (Hanover Research, 2011). At California State University, the summer bridge program was shown to increase the six-year graduation rates of the students in the program from 39% in 2007 to 51.4% in 2012 (Rivera, 2014).

            The summer bridge program at UWGB must be only one step in the process to increasing student retention rates.  As mentioned earlier, the universities which have the highest retention rates connect students with advisors before they begin their course work and restrict the student’s course options to only those classes which will help the student obtain their desired degree (Nguyen et al., 2012).  Once the students begin their course work student services must be available to help them in the form of tutoring, mentoring, social interactions, faculty support, career support services (Astin, 1993; Blum, & Jarrat, 2014, Chen, 2012; Day et al., 2011; Day et al., 2012; Kirk & Day, 2011; Rath et al., 2013; Rugg, 1982; Unrau, et al., 2012). 

            The low rate of college completion by minorities is a national crisis which has been recognized at the federal level (CHE, 2011; Executive Office of the President, 2014; Lumina Foundation, 2013; the White House, 2013).  The percentage of minority students who do not complete their education at UWGB is higher than the state average.  If UWGB were to begin implementing the aforementioned programs and increase the amount of student services available to the students’, evidence-based-research suggests that graduation rates and student retention during the students first year will rise.

Fostering Phuture’s Program Goals and Objectives

            The University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UWGB) is developing a comprehensive college bridge program to mitigate the low rate of college completion of Wisconsin foster youth.  Between 40%- 50% of foster youth earn a high school degree, less than 20% of former foster youth enroll in higher education, and only 2% of those youth obtain a college degree (Juvenile Law Center [JLC], 2014).  UWGB is expanding its services to assist college freshmen from the former foster population. Fostering Phuture’s will provide direct on campus services for up to twenty of these youth each year.  The purpose of this program is to raise the percentage of foster youth in Brown County, Wisconsin who hold a bachelor’s degree to the state average of 26.4% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).  The program will measure its progress in achieving this goal through monitoring academic achievement for signs of success or struggle, intervening early to correct academic challenges, and ultimately increase the graduation rates of the foster youth who participate in the program,.  The UWGB college bridge program will achieve this endeavor by providing tutoring, mentoring, and college enrollment assistance to high school foster youth. When these youth are admitted to UWGB they will be enrolled in the summer college bridge class that will prepare these youth for the academic rigors of college. Throughout these youth’s college career, the Fostering Phuture’s program will address the multifaceted needs of the former foster population by providing them with mental health services, peer mentoring, guidance from an academic adviser, academic monitoring from a student support staff member, full-time-housing, academic tutoring, access to community resources that provide necessities such as food and clothing, transportation assistance, job skills training, and employment opportunities. This program is dedicated to empowering former foster youth to excel academically and in life by giving them the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen career while also giving them a sense of stability and belonging within the university community.

Goal 1: Foster Youth Outreach

            Due to confidentiality laws UWGB is unable to obtain a list of current foster youth and former foster youth under the age of 18 in Brown County. UWGB will gain access to 20 of 88 known Brown County foster youth (M. Burnikel, personal communication, October 5, 2014), through an aggressive outreach initiative aimed at locating and serving current high school foster youth and former foster youth who are reunified with their families, living in group homes, or in kinship care.

            Objective 1.1. Within a year of operation the program will be serving 20 of the known 88 foster and former foster youth currently eligible for services in Brown County

            Objective 1.2. Fostering Phuture’s will gain access to a 20 current foster youth and former foster youth in the Brown County area by promoting the program at all social work and child protective service meetings held within the county during 2015 and 2016.

            Objective 1.3. Within four months of operation, Fostering Phuture’s will create a direct referral network which will allow the targeted population access to the program by establishing relationships with all local agencies working with the foster youth population.

            Objective 1.4. Within six months of operation,Fostering Phuture’s will give current high school foster youth an opportunity to self-identify and become enrolled in the program by giving informational presentations at local high schools. 

            Objective 1.5. Fostering futures will establish relationships with foster parents, foster youth, and foster care professionals in Northeast Wisconsin by holding an annual college tour day and festive event, specifically for this population, on the UWGB campus.

            Objective 1.6. UWGB Fostering Phuture’s staff will obtain access to all incoming former foster youth, for the purpose of recruiting them to the program, by adding a question about prior foster care involvement to the college admissions form.

Goal 2: Increase High School Graduation and College Enrollment Rates

            Fostering Phuture’s will raise the high school graduation and college enrollment rate of the former foster population to an equivalent percentage held by the general population.

            Objective 2.1. Within three years of operation, Fostering Phuture’s will increase the high school graduation rate of foster youth in the Brown County area to equal that of the general population through a systematic mentoring and tutoring services outreach initiative aimed at improving participants grade point averages and school attendance.

            Objective 2.2.  Program participants holding a grade point average of 2.9 or lower will be provided with an academic tutor who will assist them with coursework until they graduate from high school.

            Objective 2.3. All participants will be assigned to a mentor who will foster a relationship with the student and motivate the youth to incorporate the pursuit of higher education into their personal goals.

            Objective 2.4.  During their senior year, all participants in the Fostering Phuture’s high school outreach program will apply to a minimum of two post-secondary institutions, including UWGB, and will be assisted in the application process by mentors and tutors from the program.

            Objective 2.5. Foster youth at risk for dropping out of high school due to homelessness will be provided with housing, basic needs, and employment opportunities by the Green Bay Transitional Living Program (TLP), while Fostering Phuture’s facilitates campus housing arrangements for the youth to live on campus once they are accepted into UWGB.

            Objective 2.6. All program participant seniors will be assisted by Fostering Phuture’s staff in accessing and applying for federal, state, and local grants, scholarships, and financial assistance available to former foster youth pursuing higher education.

Goal 3: College Bridge Program

            Fostering Phuture’s will increase first year college retention rates of the former foster population at UWGB by enrolling then in a college bridge course.

            Objective 3.1. During their first year of college, thirty or fewer incoming freshmen, who are former foster youth, will be enrolled in the UWGB college bridge course, a college preparatory program, which will increase the student retention rate of this population to 80% after one year.

            Objective 3.2. Student dropout rates due to unpreparedness for math, writing intensive, and science courses will be addressed through use of a methodical coursework approach designed to identify student academic weaknesses and provide students with tutoring aimed at improving these skills; student progress will be monitored by the professor of the college bridge class.

            Objective 3.3. Student dropout rates due to housing issues, and lack of basic needs will be reduced by providing program participants with fulltime housing and living essentials including but not limited to cooking supplies, bedding, food, clothing and hygiene materials.

            Objective 3.4. Student dropout rates due to medical issues will be targeted through by assisting them in applying for medical insurance through the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.

            Objective 3.5. Student dropout rates due to financial difficulties and transportation issues will be eliminated by giving program participants free bus passes, enrolling them in job skills training courses through the Green Bay Area Work Force Development office (GBWD), and providing them with employment opportunities through UWGB, the Wisconsin Green Bay Job Center, and the GBWD.

            Objective 3.6. Student dropout rates due to confusion of student roles, general education course requirements, and program course requirements will be addressed by requiring all students to meet with their academic adviser within the first two weeks of school.

            Objective 3.7. Student dropout rates caused by a lack of connection to the university and student body will be addressed by pairing all program participants with a student mentor during their first day on campus.

            Objective 3.8. Student dropout rates caused by depression, anxiety, social isolation, erratic moods, a lack of self-esteem, and other personal struggles will be reduced by requiring all participants to meet with a mental health specialist from the university during their first week on campus and providing them with unlimited access to mental health services during their college career.

            Objective 3.9. The Fostering Phuture’s Program will assist program participants in establishing a sense of community and belonging on the university campus by hosting on campus holiday parties, and three other events during the school year.

Goal 4. College Completion of Program Participants

            UWGB will take numerous steps to ensure that the former foster population at its university has the same college retention and graduation rates as the general student population.

            Objective 4.1. Advisers, mentors, and student support service personnel will be in continuous contact with the former foster youth and assist them with all academic struggles to prevent their grade point averages from falling below a 3.0.

            Objective 4.2. A Fostering Phuture’s staff member will monitor the class attendance and grade point averages of students in the program and intensify services offered to program participants who are struggling.

            Objective 4.3. Program sophomores who maintain a 3.0 or better will be asked to act as mentors to incoming foster youth in order to deepen their connection to the UWGB community and deepen personal motivation to achieve their educational goals.

            Objective 4.4. All program participants will design an educational plan that will allow them to complete their education within five years; six years in the case of special circumstances.

            Objective 4.5. Advisers and mentors will have established close relationships with the program participants and during monthly checkups they will offer tailored services to the youth at risk for dropping below a 3.0 grade point average, or leaving school due to personal complications.

Fostering Phuture’s Program Design and Implementation

            UWG will raise the percentage of former foster youth who complete a college education in the Brown County area to 26.4%.  UWGB will accomplish this goal through the implementation of the Fostering Phuture’s Program.

            Through use of an aggressive marketing campaign Fostering Phuture’s will recruit current and former foster youth to the program by establishing close relationships with social workers and organizations in the Brown County area that serve the foster population. Fostering Phuture’s will ensure that all professionals working with current and former foster youth are aware of the services offered to this population by UWGB and are motivated to connect their clients to the program. 

            Fostering Phuture’s will reach former foster youth and kinship care youth in local high schools by giving motivational speeches at area schools.  These presentations will include information about the tutoring services, mentoring services, college application assistance, year round tuition, and scholarships/grants available to former foster youth, first generation college students, low income students, and minority students.  After each presentation information cards will be given to each student asking them to rate the presentation and indicate if they are a former foster youth interested in obtaining more information about the Fostering Phuture’s program.

            Fostering Phuture’ will become a household name within Brown County foster families, group homes, and Transitional Living Program centers that serve former foster youth by inviting all individuals from the aforementioned areas of child welfare, and all social workers, public school teachers, and local social service providers to attend an annual Fostering Phuture’s day event on the UWGB campus.  Individuals who wish to attend the program will be offered transportation to the event and all attendees will be given a $10 gift card for the UWGB school store.

            This event will begin with an auditorium presentation on the services offered to current and former foster youth by UWGB.  When the presentation concludes attendees will tour the campus, and attend small group workshops. Workshops for the professionals will center on the importance of improving the rates of higher education attainment within the foster community.  Workshops for foster parents will cover topics such as the importance of their wards attending higher education and the resources available to help them get there.  Sessions for the foster youth will include topics about what campus life is like, how to apply for college, and all services offered to them by the university.  Participants that fill out a college application while attending the event will be given a $5 gift card to the UWGB school store.  The college application will include a question about current or former foster status. Individuals self-identify on the form are allowing UWGB to contact them directly about the services offered by Fostering Phuture’s.

            Once contact has been established with current and/or former high school foster youth program leaders will make arrangements with the student, the students school, and the students social worker for a Fostering Phuture’s tutor or mentor to begin working and/meeting with the youth on a weekly basis.  Former foster youth who are struggling academically will be provided with a tutor who will assist him/her until he/she graduates from high school.   All Fostering Phuture’s high school students will be provided with a mentor who will work to encourage the student to pursue higher education.  During the student’s senior year of high school, the tutor and/or mentor will assist the foster youth in applying to two institutions of higher education. This mandatory college application assignment will raise the college enrollment rate of former foster youth in Brown County. The tutor’s and mentors will also assist the foster youth in applying to college grants and scholarships available to them from federal, state, and local colleges.

            Foster youth who turn 18 before finishing their high school education will be connected to TLP in order to ensure the youth will not drop out of high school due to issues relating to homelessness and lack of employment options.  Former foster youth who have applied to UWGB and been admitted to the university will be offered fulltime housing on campus. Once these youth graduate from high school they will be able to move into UWGB housing from the home provided to them by TLP.

            Students are at the greatest risk for dropping out of college during their freshmen year of college (ACT Inc, 2014). Fostering Phuture’s will combat this risk through use of a college bridge program.  Fostering Phuture’s staff at UWGB will be given lists of incoming former foster freshmen obtained by students self-identifying on the UWGB admissions application. Students admitted to UWGB will be contacted and offered an opportunity to enroll in the college bridge class.  The college bridge class will serve up to 20 incoming freshmen and will commence three weeks before the start of the fall semester. Students enrolled in this class will benefit academically by receiving intense remedial tutoring services tailored to each student’s areas of academic weakness.  The college bridge class professor will engineer assignments that are specific to each students needs and monitor each student’s progress in improving their academic skills.  Students in this program will be provided with tutoring services and writing support help the day their course work begins.

            The students enrolled in the college bridge course will be given essential time needed to establish a resource network within the Green Bay community.  When the students arrive on campus they will find a welcome package that includes a free city bus pass, bedding, food, cooking supplies, hygiene items, and other essentials in their dorm room.  During the week on campus students will be connected to local agencies that supply food stamps, medical assistance, clothing, transportation services, and other living essentials. 

            On the second day of the program students will take a city bus tour of the Green Bay area to familiarize themselves with the community and know the locations of important offices such as the Wisconsin Job Center, City Hall, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Family Service Crisis and Counseling center.  All students will be connected to the GBAD.  Through this office students will be able to obtain specialized training in manufacturing jobs and other employment opportunities.

            College bridge participants will meet with their academic adviser during their first week on campus to mitigate the large percentage of students who drop out of college due to lack of a clear academic path (Jones, 2011).   Universities with high retention rates connect students to their advisers at the beginning of their college career (Gonzales, 2012; Morrison, 1973; Nguyen, Ward & Engle 1, 2012; Nguyen, Ward & Engle 2, 2012).  UWGB Fostering Phuture’s college bridge course participants will meet with their adviser on a monthly basis throughout their academic career, thereby ensuring the students will have proper guidance in managing their educational pursuits alongside their personal lives.

            College students who receive mentoring and academic coaching from a peer have low dropout rates (Damast, 2012). All college bridge participants will be paired with a college mentor who will act as a friend and coach.  Individuals’ for the former foster population hold a higher percentage of issues associated with mental illness than the general population (Schuyler Center, 2009).  To combat the risk of foster youth dropping out of college as a result of a mental health concern UWGB will connect all bridge program youth with mental health services at the university and within the Green Bay community during the first week of school.  Through use of the affordable care act students who want to receive counseling services, but do not want to access them on campus, will be able to utilize mental health services in the Green Bay community at no charge.

            UWGB will host holiday parties and other social events for participants in the college bridge course and Fostering Phuture’s Program throughout the year.  These events will serve to create a sense of community amongst the former foster youth and eliminate the risk of college dropout rates caused by social isolation.  College professors, student advisors, tutors, and mentors of the students will be invited to these events.

            Former foster youth who complete the college bridge program will not experience a discontinuance of services provided by the Fostering Phuture’s Program.   All individuals of former foster status that did or did not take the college bridge course will receive continuous support from student advisors, mentors and tutors during their academic career.   Students who participated in the college bridge program and maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher will be asked to serve as mentors to incoming former foster youth on the campus.  Students’ academic achievements will be monitored by the director of the Fostering Phuture’s Program and when/if a student begins to struggle an aggressive campaign to assist the student with their academic struggles will commence.

Fostering Phuture’s Program Evaluation

            UWGB Fostering Phuture’s will track the success rate of the program through use of a quasi-experimental matched comparison group design.  As stated in the attached Task Plan (see Appendix A), and depicted in the attached logic model (see Appendix B) Fostering Phuture’s will track the program’s success rate at increasing the number of foster youth who graduate from high school, enroll in post-secondary education, apply for foster youth specific grants/scholarships, remain in school after their freshmen year, and graduate from college between 4 and 6 years.

            Each year UWGB will compare the high school graduation rate of program participants to that of former foster youth who do not participate in the program to the graduation rate of non-former foster youth.  The program will be seen as successful if the graduation rate of participants is equal to the graduation rate of the general student population in the Brown County area.

            The director of the Fostering Phuture’s Program will require tutors and mentors to send in copies of the post-secondary institution college admissions forms and scholarship/grant application forms filled out by the high school students.  College enrollment will be deemed successful if the foster youth apply to a minimum of two colleges and two available grants and/or scholarships.

            The director will track the first year college retention rates of all former foster youth at UWGB.  The director will compare the retention rates of former foster program participants to that of former foster youth who chose not to participate and students from the general population.   The program’s initiatives will be deemed successful if the first year retention rate of Fostering Phuture’s participants is close or equal to that of the general student population.  The first year retention rates of non-program participant former foster youth will be used as a control group.

            Four years after the program begins the director of the program will begin tracking the college graduation rates of program participants.  The director will compare the percentage of program participants who graduate between 4 and 6 years to the graduation rates of non-program participants from the general student population.  The program will be deemed successful if the graduation rates of program participants is close or equal to the graduation rate of the general student population.

            In addition to the aforementioned measures of program success the program director will analyze the program’s success in motivating high school youth to attend college, motivating college participants to finish their degree, providing college participants with adequate mental health services, and fostering a sense of on-campus community amongst participants through use of detailed questionnaires.

Agency Capacities

            The University of Wisconsin Green Bay was founded in 1965.  During the 50 years UWGB has been in operation, it has created numerous programs which have improved the lives of residents of Green Bay, Brown County, and Northeast Wisconsin.  For over a decade UWGB has improved the graduation rates of at risk Title I Green Bay Public School District students through intensive tutoring and mentoring services provided by the Phuture Phoenix Program (Phuture Phoenix, 2013; Roberts, 2012) (see Appendix C).  Two years ago, UWGB began improving the college retention rates of its students through a first year seminar course, designed to improve student critical thinking skills and academic skills (Zaph, 2013). In that same year UWGB began a systematic approach to motivating student campus engagement through peer relations fostered in the campus GPS course (Phoenix GPS, 2014).

            UWGB’s commitment to improving the lives of Northeast Wisconsin residents has been recognized by numerous agencies and local philanthropists.  UWGB’s Phuture Phoenix program has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in private donations as well as funding from AmeriCorps and Great Lakes Educational Foundation.   The UWGB GPS program received a grant award from the Schneider Foundation in October 2014 (M. Bayer, personal communication, September 19, 2014). 

                        Fostering Phuture’s is just one more piece needed for UWGB to improve the academic success of its students and the educational attainment of northeast Wisconsin.  UWGB has the resources necessary to make this program successful. University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s lead academic advisor Deanne Kusserow, in collaboration with the Dean of Students and other university administrators, applied for and received funding for housing scholarships that are to be available to former foster college students.

Collaborative Capabilities

            The University of Wisconsin Green Bay has established working relationships with non-profit, for profit, and state organizations throughout Wisconsin and within the United States.  UWGB staff who created the Fostering Phuture’s Program were able to establish a collaborative working relationships with the following organizations who specialize in foster youth and educational attainment.

Green Bay Workforce Development Board (GBWDB)

            Green Bay Workforce Development Board (GBWDB) has added the Fostering Phuture’s program to its community of organizations working to improve the development of the Northeast Wisconsin workforce population.  The GBWDB will refer current and former foster youth to UWGB as well as assist UWGB in finding post graduate careers for Fostering Phuture’s college graduates.

Green Bay Workforce Development Office (GBWD)

            Green Bay Workforce Development (GBWD) has agreed to partner with UWGB in its goals to help foster youth obtain employment and job skills training while obtaining a college education.  GBWD and UWGB have agreed to work with one another by mutually referring foster youth to each other.  UWGB Fostering Phuture’s participants will be trained by GBWD and given employment opportunities.  Former foster youth encountered by GBWD will be referred to the UWGB Fostering Phuture’s Program.

North East Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC)

            North East Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) has been running a student foster care program similar to Fostering Phuture’s for two years.  UWGB and NWTC have agreed to work with one another on tasks relating to helping the high school foster youth graduate and enroll in college.  UWGB and NWTC hope to use Fostering Phuture’s day as an event to recruit students to both institutions.  NWTC and UWGB have agreed to work with one another on tasks relating to marketing their programs to current and former foster youth. 

Green Bay Family Services Transitional Living Program (TLP)

            Green Bay Family Services Transitional Living Program (TLP) has agreed to work with UWGB by housing homeless foster youth at locations near their current high school which will allow Fostering Phuture’s to continue serving these youth.  TLP has agreed to refer all former foster youth they serve to the Fostering Phuture’s program.

University of Wisconsin Stout

            The University of Wisconsin Stout has been running its own former foster college program for a year.  Program staff have agreed to work with UWGB on recruiting foster youth and sharing resources that will lead to the success of participants within our programs.

Wayne State University

            The director of Wayne State University Michigan’s former foster program has agreed to work with UWGB during the first year of Fostering Phuture’s establishment. Wayne State’s program is the second successful former foster college program created by the same individual. This director has agreed to help UWGB begin its program on solid footing which will eliminate potential unforeseen obstacles.


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Appendix A

Fostering Phuture’s Task Plan
ObjectivesActivitiesDesired TimeframePerson(s) Responsible
Program Development
Receive approval from the university. Receive approval from the university to begin operation of the program.  ImmediatelyProgram developer
Obtain approval/ funding for director position.  Ask the university to add the director position to the university staff or apply for funding to hire a director.   ImmediatelyProgram developer
Hire director.Applicant must have a master’s degree in one of the following fields: education, social work, or human services, public administration. Candidate must have a minimum of 5 years of experience working with foster youth or at risk youth. Candidate must possess knowledge of the social and mental health obstacles encountered by the former foster population.Hire director within one month of funding approvalProgram developer
Obtain funding for Fostering Phuture’s Day.Fostering Phuture’s day will require funding to pay all advertising materials.  Funding will also be required to pay for use of the UWGB event room, gift cards, and the transportation of individuals to and from the event.Annual and quarterly Director
Obtain funding to pay tutors and mentors a small stipend.A reliable staff of tutors and mentors will be obtained by offering them a small stipend for their services. Funding sources such as AmeriCorps scholarships will be located and applied for.  See if tutors and/or mentors can be paid for by student work funds. AnnualDirector
Obtain funding for purchase of living essentials for freshmen students. Once the number of students attending the program is known program staff must purchase and/or obtain housing items, blankets, hygiene materials, and other living essentials for these students.ContinuousDirector
Obtain funding for motivational speakers.Hire former foster alumni from around the country, who hold bachelor’s degrees and have been successful in life, to speak with the youth about the importance of college education and becoming leaders within the foster community.   Funding will be needed to pay the speakers travel expenses.AnnualDirector
Community Networking and Marketing
Market the program to Individuals that work with foster youth.Conduct meetings with local high school teachers and guidance counselors to promote the program and establish a referral network to the program.Twice a year Director
Attend all meetings in the Brown County Area that relate to foster youth, kinship care youth and wards of the court. Establish a referral network to the program.Continuous Director
Meet with program directors of homeless shelters, group homes, Transitional Living Program’s, and other organizations that work directly with current and former foster youth. Establish a referral network to the program.Annual / ContinuousDirector
Foster Youth Outreach
High school student self-identification opportunities.Give motivational presentations to Title I high school youth about the importance of higher education.  Recruit former foster youth from high school population.  AnnuallyDirector
Fostering Phuture’s Day.Invite all foster families, foster parents, kinship families, wards of the state, public school employees, social workers, child welfare advocates, and other professionals who come in contact with foster youth to UWGB for an informational session about the Fostering Phuture’s Program, and a tour of the campus. This annual event will be held in FebruaryDirector
Increasing High School Graduation and College Enrollment Rates
Improve high school participants’ grade point averages.Provide all high school Fostering Phuture’s participants who are struggling academically with a student tutor from UWGB. Tutors will begin meeting with students within two weeks of enrolling in the program.Recruitment and hiring conducted on a needs basis.  Director, Tutors
Motivate students to attend higher education through mentor relationships.High school youth will be given a mentor who is either a current student at UWGB student body or a former foster youth who had graduated from college in the past.  Mentors will begin meeting with students within two weeks of enrolling in the program.Recruitment and hiring conducted on a needs basis.  Director, Mentors
Improve college enrollment and acceptance.All high school youth participating in the Fostering Phuture’s Program will apply for admittance into two institutions of higher education with the assistance of their tutor or mentor. Director of Fostering Phuture’s will verify completion of this task.Annually / May of each year.Tutors, Mentors, Director
College Attainment Questionnaires.Each high school junior and senior will fill out a questionnaire measuring their motivation to attend college.AnnualTutors, Mentors, Director
College grants, scholarships and other funding.Tutors and mentors assist students in applying for all scholarships, grants, and other funding sources available to college foster youth at the state, federal and local levelAnnualTutors, Mentors, Director
Housing Services.Homeless program participants will receive housing from the Green Bay Family Services Transitional Living Program (TLP) until they finish high school.  If the student is admitted to UWGB they will be able to move on campus once they graduate from high school.Needs basis/ continuousDirector
College Bridge Program
College Bridge Program PreparationTwenty or less incoming freshmen who identify as former foster youth on their college admission form will be invited to enroll in the college bridge course.AnnualDirector
Student’s high school transcripts and ACT/SAT scores will be evaluated to identify the incoming academic struggles of the bridge program participants. AnnualDirector
Collaborate with the Green Bay Workforce Development Office to schedule job skills training workshops and staffing agency participation in assisting the incoming former foster freshmen enter the Green Bay workforce during their first month at UWGB.AnnualDirector
Connect with UWGB student advisors, tutoring services, mentors, and campus mental health staff and make sure these services will be available to all students during their first week in the college bridge course.AnnualDirector
College Bridge Program OperationAll students will be given a free city bus passes, dishes, nonperishable food items, bedding, towels, laundry detergent, and other living essentials when they arrive on campus. Students will be assisted in applying for food stamps, locating local food pantries and other charitable organizations that supply reduced cost food and clothing in the Green Bay area. Annual / needs basis continuousDirector, Mentors, Academic Advisers, College Bridge Professor.
All students will be assigned a student mentor/student coach These mentors will maintain relationships with the students throughout their academic career.  First day of college bridge program.  Student Mentors  
All students will take a day long trip through the Green Bay community.  Groups of students, the professor, and program staff will ride Green Bay public transit and visit all essential Green Bay locations such as a local grocery store, employment agencies, city hall, the DMV, counseling centers, and the Green Bay Workforce Development office.Second day of college bridge programDirector, College Bridge Professor, Mentors
Students will connect with their academic adviser and create a career plan that will allow the student to create a 4-6 year graduation plan.   Academic advisers will meet with student by phone or in person once a month.  Director of program will follow up to make sure the relationships were established.Third day of college bridge programAcademic Advisers, Director  
All students will be assisted in applying or medical assistance and locating on and off campus mental health services.   All students who voluntarily meet with a mental health worker on campus during their first week will be given a $25 gift card to the campus book store.First week of e college bridge programDirector, College Bridge Professor, on Campus Counseling Staff.
All students will be made aware of tutoring support services available to them on campus.  Students will be given the option of applying for regular tutoring services.First week of college bridge programMentors
All college bridge students will be enrolled in the college bridge course.  In this class students will be given individual assignments which will prepare them for the cultural components of college life through readings, videos, and other immersion techniques.  The professor will assign each student homework relating to the topics that targets each students area of academic weakness.  Through help from tutoring services and the professor students will improve upon their areas of weakness while, establish relationships with the college community, become aware of the academic rigors and cultural behaviors expected on a university campus.Three days after students move onto campus and will last for six weeks.Director, College Bridge Professor, Mentors, Academic Advisers, Tutors, Counseling Services.
College bridge program participants will be invited to university holiday parties and other events geared toward establishing a sense of family and community within these students.Multiple events held annually.Director
College Completion of Program Participants
Maintaining student success to graduation.Monitor each former foster youth’s academic achievements and increase support services to students who are struggling.MonthlyDirector
Academic advisers will meet with students once a month by phone or in person and assist the student with any struggles or questions. Academic advisers will continue to assist students in staying on their preplanned 4-6 year graduation goal.MonthlyAcademic Advisers
Mentors will continue to foster a relationship with their mentees until the student graduates or breaks off the relationship.Monthly or bi-weekly.Mentors
Students who maintain a 3.0 or higher will be asked to become mentors or tutors for incoming college bridge freshmen.At the end of every term.Director
Evaluation of the Program
High school graduation rates.The graduation rate of Fostering Phuture’s participants will be compared to the graduation rate of students at their school of similar academic and socioeconomic standing.  The graduation rate of program participants should be equal to that of the general student population.AnnuallyDirector
High school student motivation.Annual questionnaires given to program high school juniors and seniors to measure their self-motivation to attend college.AnnualDirector
College Enrollment.90% of program participants will have submitted college applications to UWGB as well as applications for foster scholarships, grants and housing.AnnuallyDirector
First year college retention rates.First year college retention rates of Fostering Phuture’s participants will be equal or within ten percentage points of the first year retention rate of the UWGB general student population.AnnuallyDirector
College student motivation.Annual questionnaires given to program freshmen and sophomores to measure their self-motivation to complete their college education.AnnuallyDirector
Four and six year college completion rates.The four and six year college completion rates of program participants will be no lower than 26%.  The goal is for the completion rate at the four and six year level to be equal to that of the general population.  Due to the lack of a base line the initial goal is for slightly more than a quarter to graduate which is 24% higher than the current national graduation rate of former fosters.Year four and twice a year afterDirector

Published by lifefromtheashes5332

Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I am a wife, mother, gardener, adjunct professor, philosopher, former foster child, former homeless adult and Master in Social Work. My website covers all the things listed above!

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