Voices’ Blog

Building a Bridge for Youth in Foster Care to Higher Education

Posted:  -  By: Allison Gilbreath

For the nearly 500 youth who age out of Virginia’ Foster Care system, only 2% of them will graduate with a degree from a four year university. In fact, currently there are only 200 youth, who are in foster care, enrolled at Virginia universities. Research shows that young adults who experienced foster care have worse outcomes than their peers in the general population across a variety of spectrums — from education, to employment, to housing, to early parenthood. Examining data on these outcomes in Virginia is important as we strive to improve the practices, programs, and policies that help ensure these young people have the relationships, resources, and opportunities they need for well-being and success.

In the last several years, Virginia has made investments in improving the outcomes of older youth, including our extended foster care program to 21 – Fostering Futures. However, while the state provides tuition waivers for youth who age out of foster care to attend Virginia community colleges, youth who choose to move on to a four year university do not receive tuition assistance. That leaves many students unable to afford the cost, in addition to living expenses.

During the 2019 General Assembly Session, Delegate Jason Miyares (R) has filed a bill, HB2350,  that would extend the tuition waiver to youth who aged out of foster care who attend four year universities. The bill has passed out of the House of Delegates and is now making its way through the Senate.

Voices will provide an update on the status of this legislation. You can read more about legislation we support, in our 2019 legislation blog here.

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