Kutz­town Univer­sity, ChildPromise join forces to sup­port for­mer foster chil­dren

Pro­vides col­lege ac­cess pro­grams, such as col­lege prep and fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy work­shops

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - LOCAL NEWS - From Kutz­town Univer­sity

Kutz­town Univer­sity and ChildPromise, Inc., Philadelphia, have en­tered into a four-year agree­ment to cre­ate a Pro­vid­ing Re­sources and Op­por­tu­ni­ties to Fu­ture Stand­outs (PROFS) pro­gram to as­sist young adults who age out of the foster care sys­tem. PROFS pro­vides col­lege ac­cess pro­grams, such as col­lege prep and fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy work­shops for high school stu­dents in the foster care sys­tem and also re­ten­tion pro­grams for KU stu­dents tran­si­tion­ing from the foster care sys­tem. Re­ten­tion pro­grams for KU stu­dents in­clude aca­demic and per­sonal coach­ing, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy work­shops, and peer men­tor­ing ser­vices. PROFS stu­dents will also be con­nected to on-cam­pus jobs many of which in­clude work hours over se­mes­ter breaks, as year round hous­ing for stu­dents will be pro­vided as well. Ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude fund­ing for study abroad and cul­tural trips to places such as DC, NYC and Philadelphia. PROFS will be staffed by KU staff and grad­u­ate as­sis­tants who will meet reg­u­larly with all PROFS stu­dents to sup­port aca­demic per­for­mance and suc­cess.

“Many higher ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams ex­ist to pro­vide ac­cess to a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion for foster care stu­dents,” said Dr. War­ren Hil­ton, vice pres­i­dent for En­roll­ment Man­age­ment and Stu­dent Af­fairs, Kutz­town Univer­sity. “The PROFS is unique in that it fo­cuses in on re­tain­ing and grad­u­at­ing foster care stu­dents from col­lege. The sup­port from ChildPromise will help stu­dents achieve their goal of ob­tain­ing a col­lege de­gree and pur­su­ing their cho­sen ca­reer path.” ChildPromise has ap­proved more than $59,000 in fund­ing for the first year of the pro­gram and nearly a half mil­lion dol­lars by the end of the agree­ment in Au­gust 2021. KU hopes to have more than 50 stu­dents en­rolled in the pro­gram over the next four years. ChildPromise, Inc., has been pro­vid­ing care for or­phans, chil­dren and youth since 1879 when it was founded as the Bap­tist Or­phan­age of Philadelphia.

“We are hon­ored to part­ner with Kutz­town Univer­sity to de­velop the PROFS pro­gram,” said Dr. Nathaniel Wil­liams, pres­i­dent and CEO of ChildPromise. “En­abling cur­rent and for­mer foster chil­dren to at­tain higher ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tally im­por­tant to aid them in reach­ing their fullest po­ten­tial and over­com­ing per­ceived bar­ri­ers. We look for­ward to a long-term re­la­tion­ship with Kutz­town Univer­sity.”

Of the more than 20,000 youth ag­ing out of the foster care sys­tem na­tion­ally each year, 1100 age out in Penn­syl­va­nia. As noted by the Penn­syl­va­nia State Re­source Fam­ily As­so­ci­ate, “one in four Pa. youth who ‘age out’ of the sys­tem, ex­pe­ri­ence home­less­ness, strug­gle with men­tal health chal­lenges such as de­pres­sion, sub­stance abuse and anx­i­ety dis­or­ders, with nearly 1 in 4 youth hav­ing been ar­rested since leav­ing care.” Ad­di­tion­ally, “Nearly half of Pa. foster care youth haven’t found a job four years after leav­ing the sys­tem and strug­gle to pay bills.”

Typ­i­cally, in­di­vid­u­als with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree earn an ad­di­tional $1M in life­time earn­ings than those who don’t have a bach­e­lor’s de­gree. Health out­comes are bet­ter and the in­car­cer­a­tion rate is lower for bach­e­lor’s level cit­i­zens. These facts pro­vide proof that more as­sis­tance is needed to guide foster care youth to­wards col­lege com­ple­tion. Pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion com­ple­tion for foster care youth ag­ing out of the sys­tem would solve many of the prob­lems high­lighted above.

“Com­ing from a place where I was told I’d ac­com­plish noth­ing, I per­son­ally feel the PROFS pro­gram will help me suc­ceed by pro­vid­ing me a tremen­dous amount of sup­port while going through the dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion to col­lege,” said Lil­lian Cross­ley, a KU fresh­man from Northum­ber­land County. “I’m grateful to have been cho­sen for such an out­stand­ing pro­gram.”

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