Raja, Senator Franken, and Representative Davis Lead Effort to Help Foster and Homeless Youth Succeed in College
Washington, D.C.- On September 12, 2017, Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017 to provide robust support to help foster and homeless youth succeed in college. Congressman Bobby Scott, Ranking Member of the Education and Workforce Committee, and Congresswoman Susan Davis, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, join as original co-sponsors and will advance this bill as part of the Democratic “Aim Higher” Campaign to make higher education work for all students.
Although a college degree is paramount to securing a job with a living wage and good benefits, foster and homeless youth are continuously left behind. Less than 20 percent of foster youth graduate high school, and less than 10 percent of those who attempt college will obtain a post-secondary credential by the age of 25. Unaccompanied homeless youth have similar college enrollment patterns, however limited data exists on education outcomes for these vulnerable youth. Foster and homeless youth often experience poor academic preparation due to over enrollment in low-performing high schools, considerable financial hardship, housing challenges, and limited social capital to help them navigate the college enrollment process and meet the varied demands of higher education. Moreover, foster and homeless youth are at higher risk for lasting physical and mental health effects from traumas experienced, poor health care, and other stressors that undermine college success.
The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017 would improve college access, retention, and completion rates for foster and homeless youth by substantially improving state capacity to support these students as they transition to and attend college. The bill would invest $150 million each year in States, tribes, and territories to establish or expand statewide initiatives to assist foster and homeless youth in enrolling in and graduating from higher education. Specifically, the bill dedicates 70 percent of state grants to develop “Institutions of Excellence” committed to serving foster and homeless youth via substantial financial assistance and robust support services. In addition, the bill directs 25 percent of state grants to intensive, statewide transition initiatives to help foster and homeless high schoolers prepare for and enroll in college.
“Far too often, foster and homeless youth in urban areas, rural communities, and in Indian Country face major barriers when it comes to attending college,” said Senator Al Franken, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “I believe we should be taking action to support these young men and women as they pursue an education, which is exactly what our new bill would do. This measure would improve access, retention, and graduation rates for homeless and foster youth—but most importantly, it would provide a platform for many young Minnesotans to reach their full potential. I’m proud to have helped introduce this bill.”
Congressman Danny K. Davis said, “Frederick Douglass held that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. 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. Senator Franken and I successfully championed improvements in K-12 education for foster youth, and I am pleased to partner with him and Congressman Krishnamoorthi to help foster and homeless youth turn their dreams of being college graduates into reality.”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi said, ““There is no question that education can be the great equalizer in our country, providing a bridge to opportunity for millions. Despite the potential of education for social uplift, foster and homeless youth face additional obstacles in completing their educations and building a middle-class life. I'm proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017 to address these challenges and to expand the circle of opportunity.”
The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017 is supported by 30 organizations, including the following national organizations: American Psychological Association; Children’s Defense Fund; Child Welfare League of America; Family Focused Treatment Association; First Focus Campaign for Children; First Start Institute, Inc.; Girls Inc.; Juvenile Law Center; National Association of Counsel for Children; National Association of Social Workers; National Center on Adoption and Permanency; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Network for Youth; Northwest Resource Associates/Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center; SchoolHouse Connection; Spaulding for Children; StandUp For Kids; Voice for Adoption; Wisconsin HOPE Lab; and Youth Villages