Davis, Krishnamoorthi, Casey Introduce Legislation to Foster Success in Higher Education for Foster and Homeless Youth
Less than 10 percent of foster youth graduate with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree
Washington, D.C. – September 19, 2023, Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act to improve college access, retention, and graduation rates for foster and homeless youth.
A college degree dramatically increases employment and earnings. Although the vast majority of foster and homeless youth want to attend college, these youth experience multiple challenges (such as financial hardship, housing insecurity, poor academic preparation) that undermine enrollment and completion. Additionally, these youth are at a higher risk of physical and mental health effects from traumas, poor health care, and other stressors that undermine college success. Less than 10% of foster youth obtain a 2-year or 4-year degree by age 23. Similarly, young adults who experienced homelessness were less than one-third as likely to be enrolled in a 4-year college as their stably-housed peers.
The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act would substantially improve state capacity to assist these students, helping them cover the costs of college and providing robust support and mental health services. This legislation would invest $150 million a year in states, tribes, and territories to establish or expand statewide initiatives to assist foster and homeless youth in enrolling in and graduating from college. Formula grants to states would be based on their share of foster and homeless youth with the majority of funds for developing Institutions of Excellence skilled at graduating these students with little-to-no debt.
“Frederick Douglass held that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” said Rep. Davis. “The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act helps ensure that foster and homeless youth have the best chance in school, work, and life so that they can be the leaders they want to be. This bill is needed now more than ever to help foster and homeless youth turn their dreams of being college graduates into reality.”
“All of our nation’s youth should have access to higher education,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act will provide resources to help foster and homeless youth overcome the significant hurdles they face in enrolling and completing college so they can achieve their dreams. By investing in our youth today, we are helping shape our next generation of leaders, and I’m proud to support this bill. Together, we can break these cycles of poverty and hardship and ensure everyone in America is able to reach their full potential.”
“For many foster and homeless youth, a college degree is an essential building block for them to get ahead in life—swinging open doors to new experiences and opportunities,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said, “The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act will help us meet our obligation to ensure these young adults have all the resources and services they need to succeed in life.”
The legislation is endorsed by over 40 national and state organizations.
Congressional Research Institute for Social Work Policy
“Passage of the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act would, for the first time, provide critical federal support to build and maintain targeted campus-support programs for foster and homeless youth. Federal investments are critical for long-term sustainability of these efforts proven to keep foster care alumni connected to higher education and reduce drop out. Expanding policies that support state and federal investments in campus support programs for foster youth makes good economic sense and reduces costs associated with dependence on public assistance and intergenerational foster care placements.” Angelique Day, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Washington and Legislative Director, Congressional Research Institute for Social Work Policy (CRISP)
"As the national network for young people in foster care, FosterClub hears from young people who are at different points in their higher education journey. Young people tell us they need focused academic and financial resources along with networks of support for their well-being, including connections to peers. We're grateful to Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Senator Bob Casey for providing needed resources and support through the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act so young people can thrive in their higher-education journeys." Celeste Bodner, Executive Director, FosterClub
National Foster Youth Institute
"The overwhelming majority of former foster youth aren't prevented from completing degrees because of lack of intellect or motivation. Living expenses, reliable housing, a support system, access to technology, and help navigating the complexities of the academic world are often barriers to graduating," said Rebecca Louve Yao, Executive Director of the National Foster Youth Institute. "This legislation does so much more than give former foster youth a shot at higher education. It thoughtfully provides the supportive and wrap-around services that empower former foster youth and increase their chances of success."
“All our youth should have access to higher education and the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential. The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act would ensure homeless and foster youth are supported from college enrollment to graduation. We strongly support this legislation and urge for its swift passage.” Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth
“Education beyond high school remains the surest path to economic independence, stability, health, and well-being. The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act helps ensure that homeless and foster youth get the unique support that they need to achieve their higher education dreams, break cycles of poverty and hardship, and reach their full potential. We are proud to support this legislation, and urge Congress to pass it quickly.” Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
"At Think of Us, we deeply believe in the dreams and aspirations of foster and homeless youth. Facing unique challenges, these young individuals deserve more than just hope—they deserve tangible support. The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act stands as a beacon, paving the way for these dreams to become achievable realities. Every youth, regardless of their background, has the right to a promising future." Sixto Cancel, Founder & CEO Think of Us
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