By Michael Nafso
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 9:57 PM EDT
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (03/18/2021) - Getting a college degree can be overwhelming for many people, but for young people who are homeless or in foster care, there are extra barriers making it even harder to get that diploma.
Challenges like not having emotional or financial support from parents, but Mid-Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee wants to make sure there is federal support.
According to the United States Government Accountability Office, 72% of foster youth, nearly 3 out of every 4, had no degree or certificate within six years of first enrolling in college.
“All those things that we rely on friends and family, especially family to support us with, a foster youth trying to go to college doesn’t have anyone to turn to,” Mid-Michigan Congressman, Dan Kildee said.
Kildee says there isn’t a strong enough support system in place guiding them on their path to graduation. He says he’s introducing a federal bill on Thursday to change that.
“A system across the country at all colleges and universities that understand that foster youth have these unique challenges, and that we all have a vested interest in those young people succeeding,” Kildee said.
Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth would create a program through the U.S. Department of Education, profiling colleges and universities that are ‘Foster and Homeless Youth Friendly,’ and create a national center to assist those institutions in their practice.
“It allows them access to better paying jobs, jobs with healthcare, better supports with housing, so it opens up the door, so that they’re not stuck in a system,” Rachel Osmer said.
The University of Michigan Flint is one of several institutions sponsoring the bill, and they’re already one step ahead with their program called ‘Mpowering My Success.’
Osmer is a Life Skills Coach in the program, and she supports their 14 students in the program one-on-one every week.
She says this could be a game changer for youth who’ve been in foster care.
“This kind of legislation really would help bring a light to some of these issues that are faced and potentially make it a national known issue that maybe other states who aren’t as forward-thinking would begin having these supports added,” Osmer said.
For more about the ‘Mpowering My Success’ program, click here.