Maricopa County Community College District: Launch of Program to Help Youth in Foster Care Finish College

Member Spotlight

The Maricopa Community Colleges has announced a new program that will help children who are aging out of the foster care system to get into and complete college. The Bridging Success Initiative, funded by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, was introduced at an event with partners from across the Valley.

The initiative advisory board has representatives from Arizona State University (ASU), Children's Action Alliance, Arizona's Children Association, Arizona Friends of Foster Care, College Success Arizona, College Depot, Florence Crittendon, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

The program focuses on three key areas: retention, degree completion, and transfer. The Maricopa Community Colleges are creating supportive environments at all of their main campuses where students can get tutoring, academic counseling, career planning, skill development, and other support services. Finishing a program usually leads to greater overall earning potential for youth in foster care. And through ASU's similar Bridging Success Program, counselors who work with these youth will make the transfer go smoothly.

"Supporting youth who are aging out of foster care is core to our mission of access and student success," said Dr. Felicia L. Ganther, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. "We are extremely committed to this work and are thankful to our community partners for helping us to create a web of support for these students. Like other young people, youth in foster care have dreams. Yet we know that there are big challenges and obstacles in the way of these dreams. Our goal is to turn these dreams deferred, into dreams realized."

Facts About Youth in Foster Care

  • Every year, more than 700 Arizona children age out of foster care when they turn 18.
  • One in four youth in foster care in the U.S. will finish a certificate or two-year degree.
  • Nationally, only 3% of youth in foster care finish a four-year degree.
  • More than 25% experience homelessness and/or prison.
  • One in three receives public assistance, and their unemployment rate is more than 50%.

Maddy Day is Director of Outreach and Training at Western Michigan University's Center for Fostering Success and was the event's keynote speaker.

"With well staffed, campus-based support programs and supportive collaborations between the education and child welfare sectors, our students will not just survive their journey through the education to career pipeline. They will thrive," said Day.

For more information about Maricopa's Bridging Success Initiative, please contact Stephanie Garman at 480-731-8093.