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Strategies for increasing college access among unaccompanied homeless students and students from foster care. Michigan Pre-College Conference November 2013. Who Are You?. Social Workers, Child Welfare System Experts? Alumni of Foster Care? Educators? Advocates ?. Meet NAEHCY.

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Strategies for increasing college access among unaccompanied homeless students and students from foster care

Michigan Pre-College Conference

November 2013

who are you
Who Are You?
  • Social Workers, Child Welfare System Experts?
  • Alumni of Foster Care?
  • Educators?
  • Advocates?
meet naehcy

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national grassroots membership association that connects educators, parents, advocates, researchers, and service providers to ensure school enrollment, attendance and overall success for children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by the lack of safe, permanent, and adequate housing.

  • Website:
meet fostering success michigan
Meet Fostering Success Michigan

Resourcing, supporting and networking partners to increase access and success in postsecondary education and professional careers for students from foster care ages 12-25 in Michigan.

  • Website:
population overview
Population Overview

Graphic courtesy of Foster Care Alumni of America.

how many youth experience homelessness
How Many Youth Experience Homelessness?
  • 1.6 to 1.7 million youth
  • Public schools 1,065,794 homeless children/youth in 2011-12
    • 13% increase over past two years
    • 44 states (83%) reported increases
    • 55,066 unaccompanied homeless youth
  • 22% of homeless children are put into foster care
  • 30% of children in foster care could return home if their parents had access to housing
  • Approximately 27% of homeless adults and 41% of homeless youth report a foster care history
  • 25% of youth “aging out” of foster care experience homelessness
alumni of foster care outcomes education
Alumni of Foster CareOutcomes: Education

Source: Courtney et al, 2011

youth ages 12 21 in michigan foster care
Youth Ages 12 – 21 in Michigan Foster Care
  • Number of youth age 12 and older: 4,402
  • Number of youth age 18 and older: 1,201
  • Counties with highest number of youth age 12 and older in care:
    • Wayne: 1,198
    • Kent: 281
    • Macomb: 260
    • Oakland: 254
    • Genesse: 249

* Source: Michigan DHS June 2013

paths to being on our own
Paths to Being “On Our Own”
  • Family conflict: blended family issues, pregnancy, sexual activity or orientation, school problems, substance abuse
  • Abuse and/or neglect within the home
  • Parental incarceration, illness, hospitalization, or death
  • Lack of space in temporary situations or shelter policies that prohibit adolescent boys
paths continued
Paths Continued
  • Child welfare issues
    • Running away from a placement
    • Aging out of the system
    • Significant correlation between involvement with the child welfare system and experiencing homelessness as an adult
resources for disconnected students
Resources for Disconnected Students

Graphic courtesy of Foster Care Alumni of America.

eligibility for mckinney vento rights services
Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Rights & Services
  • Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:
    • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
    • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to the lack of adequate alternative accommodations
    • Living in emergency or transitional shelters
    • Awaiting foster care placement
eligibility continued
Eligibility Continued
  • Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live
  • Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or a similar setting
  • Migratory children living in the above circumstances
  • Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances

For more info, see NCHE’s Determining Eligibility brief at

fixed regular adequate
Fixed, Regular, Adequate
  • Fixed: Stationary, permanent, and not subject to change
  • Regular: Used on a predictable, routine, or consistent basis (e.g. nightly); consider the relative permanence
  • Adequate: Sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments

Can the student go to the SAME PLACE (fixed)

EVERY NIGHT (regular) to sleep in a


pre college bound homeless youth
Pre-College Bound Homeless Youth
  • Connect students with the McKinney-Vento Liaison for their school district
  • McKinney-Vento eligible students have the right to
    • Receive a free, appropriate public education
    • Enroll immediately if lacking documentation
    • Enroll in the local school, or continue attending their school of origin
    • Receive transportation to and from school of origin
funding available for students from foster care
Funding Available for Students from Foster Care
    • Students must indicate that they are an “independent student”
    • Makes students Pell Grant eligible, a requirement for many campus-support programs
    • Requires DHS form 945 (can be obtained from case manager)
  • Educational and Trainings Voucher (ETV) Program
    • The Chafee Educational and Training Voucher Program (ETV) provides resources specifically to meet the education and training needs of youth aging out of foster care. This program makes vouchers of up to $5,000 per fiscal year available to eligible youth attending post secondary educational and vocational programs.
      • For more information contact: or Tanya Maki, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Phone: (877)660-6388 or email at [email protected]
  • Youth in Transition Funds (YIT)
    • YIT can be used to help with the costs of books, uniforms, transportation (monthly bus pass), equipment, supplies, and other expenses related to their educational goals that are not covered by any other funding source.
      • For information contact: Ann Rossi by phone at (517) 373-2851 or via email at [email protected]://,1607,7-240-44524-161180--,00.html
  • Tuition Incentive Program (TIP)
    • Student must have or had Medicaid for 24 months within 36 month consecutive month period. Must apply before high school graduation and must present TIP letter to financial aid at their postsecondary institution. Phase 1 covers tuition and fees at community college. Phase 2 provides up to $2,000 starting in a student’s junior year at a 4-year Michigan college.
creating a college going culture
Creating a College-Going Culture

Graphic courtesy of Foster Care Alumni of America.

barriers to higher education for unaccompanied homeless foster care youth
Barriers to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Homeless/Foster Care Youth
  • Lack of access to parental financial information and support
  • Lack of financial means to live independently and safely
  • Inability to be financially self-sufficient once enrolled in college
  • Limited housing options, especially in small towns or rural areas
  • Struggling to balance school and other responsibilities
  • Lack of adult guidance and support
  • Lack of information about available support systems
how do you overcome the barriers and increase success
How do you overcome the barriers and increase success?

Pre-College Support:

  • Bring the college conversation TO youth in care
  • Work WITH youth in care to find their spark
  • ENGAGE youth in care in pre-college preparation support
  • Set the expectation of SUCCESS
  • KNOW your resources!
unaccompanied students under mv
Unaccompanied Students Under MV
  • 2-step process to determine eligibility
    • Does the student’s living arrangement meet the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homeless?
    • Once homelessness is determined, is the student unaccompanied?
  • Unaccompanied
    • “not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian”
financial aid and fafsa basics
Financial Aid and FAFSA Basics
  • Expected family contribution (EFC): Families are expected to contribute to higher education costs to the extent they are able
    • Cannot be filed before January 1 prior to the academic year in which student seeks to enroll
    • For dependent students, income and asset information required for both the student and a parent; parental signature required
    • For independent students, no parental signature nor income and asset information is needed
college cost reduction and act ccraa
College Cost Reduction And Act (CCRAA)
  • Independent student status for unaccompanied homeless youth and self-supporting youth at risk of homelessness
    • Can apply for financial aid without parental signature or consideration of parental income
    • Must be determined by:
      • Local liaison
      • RHYA-funded shelter director or designee
      • HUD-funded shelter director or designee
      • College financial aid administrator
verification of status form
Verification of Status Form
  • Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Documentation of Independent Student Status for the FAFSA
    • Can be used by any of the four verifiers
    • Copy should be on file with the school, one with student, and one sent to college/university
    • Valid for one academic year
uninterrupted scholars act
Uninterrupted Scholars Act

Legislation Summary

Unintentionally, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) hinder child welfare agencies in their efforts to meet the educational needs of students in foster care.

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act remedies this by:

  • Adding child welfare agencies to the list of approved entities with direct access to a student’s educational records, as long as the child welfare agency has legal responsibility for the foster youth’s placement and care
  • Protecting and preserving the educational privacy rights of students and parents that FERPA is designed to safeguard. 
best practices in high schools
Best Practices in High Schools
  • Focus on FASFSA completion!
  • FAFSA Week – see
  • Inform unaccompanied youth of college options as soon as they are identified as homeless or from foster care
  • Make sure high school counselors know about the FAFSA policies for UHY and students from foster care
  • Arrange for students to visit local colleges and universities
  • Use a template for verification –
  • Connect UHY and students from foster care to Gear-Up, Upward Bound, other TRIO programs
best practices in postsecondary institutions
Best Practices in Postsecondary Institutions
  • Establish coordination between financial aid offices, student support services, and campus housing
  • Open a food and clothing bank on campus
  • Consider housing options for homeless students when dorms close:
      • Leaving one residence hall open
      • Allow UHY and students from foster care to stay in housing for international students
      • Provide a list of “host homes” in the community
  • Has established Single Points of Contact (SPOCS)/Life Skills Coaches in colleges/universities to help eliminate barriers to higher education access
resources for student support
Resources for Student Support
  • Connect students with federal and community resources that they may be eligible for
    • Medicaid
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Funded Shelters (RHYA)
    • Administration for Children and Families
michigan statewide network
Michigan Statewide Network
  • Pam Kies-Lowe, State Coordinator for Homeless Children and Youth
  • Mark Delorey, Director of Financial Aid, Western Michigan University
  • Creating SPOC’s at (15) 4-year public colleges/universities
    • Move to creating SPOC’s at Community Colleges
  • Partnerships with Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Fostering Success Michigan (FSM), Michigan’s Children and many other youth serving organizations
you can make the difference
YOU Can Make the Difference

Graphic courtesy of Foster Care Alumni of America.

avoiding stigma
Avoiding Stigma
  • When steps are taken to avoid stigma students will wantto engage with the services provided, not feel as if they have to engage with services provided
  • Tips for reducing stigma:
    • Language
    • Let student take lead in identifying foster care history
    • Peer equality
    • Giving back
why are supportive adults key to student success
Why are supportive adults key to student success?
  • In his 2008 report, James Vacca states that foster youth “are of the most educationally vulnerable populations in our schools.”
  • Supportive adults are key to students developing skills of interdependence and perseverance.
  • This is where YOU come in!
    • SO…who are you in the life of a student?
for more information
For more information:

Cyekeia Lee: [email protected] , (734)258-8175

Maddy Day: [email protected], (269) 568-9142