Dear Friends of Fostering Success Michigan,
As of Dec 17, 2018, Fostering Success Michigan (FSM) headquarters has moved to its new home, The New Foster Care. The move was first announced in May 2018 (https://wmich.edu/news/2018/05/47347), and is a result of careful and coordinated transition planning. The transfer of FSM is something to celebrate because it is the strategy to continue the work of FSM. This is no small accomplishment for a project funded by time-limited grant support.
Launched in January 2012 as a program in the Center for Fostering Success, FSM’s aim is to increase access and success in postsecondary education and post-college careers among Michigan's students who had experienced foster care through the building of a comprehensive statewide network to support an education to career “pipeline” for students from foster care.
The idea for FSM was born out of an overwhelming interest by other colleges and universities to learn about WMU’s response to the void experienced by youth aging out foster care and the far reach of accessing college. The high volume of inquiries about the Seita Scholars program from 2008 to 2011 was the momentum behind the idea of building a statewide network that would help to “organize” a process for “aging out” of Michigan’s foster care system and “aging into” college.
The success of FSM was realized with the creative help of many people and organizations who contributed in small and large ways to help with progress towards the program’s goal over the past 7 years. FSM had three project directors during its time at WMU, and each one had a unique role in making FSM what it is today. The original idea for Fostering Success Michigan was a co-creation with Marguerite Davenport, a master-level social work intern at the time, and an extraordinary system’s thinker. Maddy Day joined the team as the second project director and took Michigan by storm from day one of her arrival. Maddy’s leadership style and passion for bringing people together fueled the process of branding FSM as a beacon of awareness, as well as the development of the resourcing, supporting and network strategies that FSM is known for today. With the learning needs of students transitioning from foster care as a central focus, Maddy and a team of staff and students engaged professionals, organizations and other stakeholders to build a pipeline between foster care and higher education to aid youth placed in foster care to pursue post-secondary education. Finally, Karie Ward, as FSM’s third project director, accepted the challenge of transitioning the program to its new headquarters and will continue to serve as the program’s director there. Karie has been a part of FSM in multiple roles for about 6 years, and her careful eye for detail and exceptional organizational skills has ensured a smooth transition.
Transitions invite reflection and opportunity for change. It is exciting to know that FSM has achieved “name brand” recognition in Michigan and across the United States during its time at WMU. We look forward to the next phase of FSM’s evolution under the leadership of The New Foster Care. Here at WMU, the Center for Fostering Success will continue its research and development work in the Seita Scholars program and the Fostering Success Coach training programs.
We thank everyone who has contributed in some way to “organize Michigan” through FSM activities over the years. As Margaret Mead stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Thank you for being part of the FSM network, and for all things big and small that have made it possible for FSM to have an impact on building system change efforts to improve college access and success for students who have experienced foster care placement in Michigan. You make a difference!
Yvonne Unrau, Ph.D., LMSW
Professor of Social Work and Director, Center for Fostering Success
Western Michigan University