Foster Care to Success or FC2S is solely committed to helping young people in foster care who are aging out of the system. The program strives to do more than just provide funding for education, but to help move a teen into post secondary education or a certificate program and then succeed in life by entering into the work force as a successful member of society. As Eileen McCaffrey, Executive Director states, "...to give young people practical advice and help them move on and not be a statistic."
The need for this type of program is clear once one hears that less than ten percent of foster children graduate from college, but sixty-one percent of former foster youth who work with the FC2S program graduate from college.
History of Foster Care to Success (FC2S)
Foster Care to Success was first created under a different name, "Orphan Foundation of America" by a former foster child, Joseph River in 1981. River aged out of the system after spending most of his childhood growing up in orphanages and foster homes. Working with a group of former foster teens and others who care about children who age out of the foster care system, he created a scholarship program to help foster teens go to college. The group started with four $500 dollar grants, and that has grown over the past thirty years to become the FC2S scholarship program today.
Today over 50,000 foster youth have received information, advice, support or funding from Foster Care to Success.
How Does the Foster Care to Success Program Work?
The program provides scholarships and grants, but is much more than just funding. They provide comprehensive support. This support means working to wrap supportive services around the youth, with coaches, volunteers, and mentors. The group even sends birthday and holiday cards as well as three care packages a year to youth in college to offer that young person the emotional support that is so important when first away from home. Each teen is matched with a coordinator that contacts them at least once a month, more often if needed. Foster Care to Success teaches that life is about having a plan and then helps the youth break their dreams and goals down into manageable steps, while helping the teen to remain realistic about their goals.
The support that is offered from FC2S is family-like in it's structure and available to youth twenty-four hours a day.
What Are the Foster Care to Success Programs?
There are ten different programs offered by Foster Care to Success, some are only offered in certain states.
InternAmerica has been around since 1994, and brings FC2S students to the Washington DC, to obtain experience and develop a professional network.
ReachUSA is offered in Missouri and North Carolina and is a statewide grant program that allows their foster youth the opportunity to attend public colleges. FC2S administers these grants.
The Book Club offers monthly textbook funding to college students in need.
Student Care Packages are sent out three times a year to offer emotional support to students.
The Sponsored Scholarship Program matches sponsors to college-bound youth who are aging out of foster care to fund their education.
Red Scarf Project offers support beyond the scarves that are knitted by volunteers. The Red Scarf Emergency Funds are given to students for medical expenses, transportation costs, rent, and groceries or clothing.
Mentoring and Support is a group of volunteers that are trained and matched with students to provide continued guidance through the Academic Success Program.
Education Training Vouchers (ETV) is a program that is offered in nine states: Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington D.C. These nine states work with FC2S to help past and present foster youth pay for college while offering needed support. Grants up to $5,000 per year are awarded to eligible students and can be renewed for up to five years or until the student is twenty-three.
The ETV program is a comprehensive program that goes beyond funding with one-on-one mentoring, care packages, internship opportunities, and academic coaching. The youth and those involved with the youth are educated about the issues that impact children aging out of foster care. Some of these issues include,
- how to choose an appropriate educational program,
- the differences between community colleges, public and private four-year schools, proprietary institutions and online colleges,
- the real costs of attending school, including fees, books and supplies, transportation and living expenses,
- the difference between grants and loans,
- strength-based career planning,
- how to develop and maintain a workable budget
- and much more.
Casey Family Scholars has awarded over ten million in Casey Family scholarships to 1,200 former foster youth since 2000.
Scholarships and Grants are administered by FC2S to help deserving foster youth achieve a meaningful post secondary education.
How Do Teens Get Into the Program
The details on being accepted into a FC2S program varies by program. No matter which program a youth applies for the most important aspect is for the youth to show that they have drive and initiative. More information on the application process can be found on the FC2S website.
How to Help Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
There are a number of ways to help youth who are aging out of foster care. Check out the FC2S website to learn how to become a volunteer or to donate. Remember that even knitting a beautiful, red scarf can bring support and comfort to a young person who is working hard to change the cycle of poverty and abuse that may have brought them into foster care in the first place.