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Indiana high schoolers in foster care can sign up for more college, career support

Foster Success hosted a program to encourage entrepreneurship in July 2022. The nonprofit's new Pathways program aims to help students as they transition out of high school.
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Foster Success hosted a program to encourage entrepreneurship in July 2022. The nonprofit's new Pathways program aims to help students as they transition out of high school.

A new statewide program aims to help hundreds of students in foster care determine how to achieve their post-high school goals.

Foster Success is a statewide nonprofit that supports 14 to 26-year-old Hoosiers as they transition out of foster care and into their next steps after high school. The nonprofit has focused on supporting college students through workforce readiness, physical and emotional well-being, and financial empowerment programs. Now they’re trying to connect with youth even earlier.

“There's a lot of things to sort out when you're in high school about what you're going to do afterwards,” said Maggie Stevens, president of Foster Success. “And for our students who are in foster care, the layers of things to sort out are even deeper.”

The new Pathways program will expose students to different opportunities so they have a better understanding of what they want to do next — trade or vocational school, college, military, joining the workforce, or other options. Enrollees will participate in monthly one-on-one check-ins with staff members who are experienced in helping students in the foster care system.

The Pathways program will host group activities and college visits, which will begin later this fall, and build a peer network for students who are exploring different post-secondary options. The program will also provide participants with $25 each time they engage in the program — whether it’s a check-in or a college visit — to make sure students are compensated if they have to miss work in order to participate.

The new program is being funded through grants and donations, an organization spokesperson said.

In 2020, there were nearly 27,000 children in foster care in Indiana, the Indiana Youth Institute reported this year. About 18 percent of them are high-school age. Stevens said many young people in foster care attend multiple high schools, which could lead to an inconsistent educational experience.

“Many times as they are just trying to acclimate to a new school, understand the systems there, the planning process for life after high school becomes secondary,” Stevens said. “So a lot of our young people that we work with have not had the support in high school to help them explore the different options that they might have after high school.”

Many high schools have college and career counselors to help guide students as they determine their next steps. But Stevens hopes the Pathways program will add another layer of support through one-on-one engagement.

Applications for the program are now open for high school students who have spent time in foster care after the age of 14. Foster Success hopes to respond to students within a few days of them submitting their application.

Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at egabriel@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Media. To see more, visit WFYI Public Media.

Elizabeth Gabriel is KLCC Public Radio Foundation Reporting Fellow. She does stories on diversity, equity and inclusion.