From Foster Care To College: Extra Help For Extra Hurdles

Photo by Paul Robinson,

Children in foster care often face substantial hurdles long before they’re old enough to apply to college. Studies show they have lower academic achievement and test scores, they bounce from school to school and are held back more often, and they have higher dropout rates than their peers. These early challenges and others can combine to keep them out of college; research shows that as few as 11 percent of foster-care kids even attend. And the obstacles don’t disappear once they make it to campus. But some states and schools offer special programs to support foster-care students who want that college degree. In this three-part series, The Southern Education Desk explores the journey from foster care through college in the South.

From Foster Care To College: Extra Help For Extra Hurdles

Part One: Getting to Z  When foster care kids turn 18, in many states, they’re basically on their own. But some states offer support programs for former foster care youth who want to go to college. In the first part of our series, you’ll meet a young adult formerly in foster care in Tennessee who’s getting help from the state to go to school.

Part Two: An Uphill Climb  New research shows most kids who grow up in foster care don’t attend college, and those who do are less likely to graduate. In the second part of our series, we take a look at those challenges first-hand.

Part Three: A Little Help Improving The Odds  At the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, a new program is trying to improve the odds stacked against foster-care kids making it through college. “Alabama REACH” offers types of support most other students probably take for granted, and so far, results seem promising. You’ll meet and get to know three young people who have already overcome much on their way to a bachelor’s, and beyond.

Photo by Paul Robinson, courtesy of

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