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Education News

New Counselors At Texas Colleges Offer Former Foster Youth ‘Hands Up’

According to state officials, 70 percent of foster youth want to attend college, but fewer than 3 percent graduate.

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For four years, Diana Stiles was a foster mom to a teenage boy.

When he graduated high school and enrolled in college, she learned a lot about what services he could access, such as a home for independent living and tuition waivers.

She worries what happens to other foster youth.

“Sometimes children that, you know, graduate high school, they kind of fall between the cracks because they don't know the first step for going to college and they don't know that they qualify for all these grants and financial aid and things like that,” Stiles said.

Stiles has a new job at Alvin Community College to tell former foster students about all those resources.

She’s part of a new rank of foster care liaison officers. It’s a new requirement from state lawmakers. This year, Texas colleges and universities must designate an officer to work with foster care youth on campus.

Stiles, who's also a professional licensed counselor, said that traditional college advising doesn't always cover their situation.

“It's just everything, their basics. They're trying to figure out how to become independent and they might not have been as coached as well,” she said. “We're there to kind of give them a hands up, you know, these are the steps you'll take (to) become independent and successful.”

In 2014, more than 30,000 children were in foster care in Texas.

According to state officials, 70 percent of them want to attend college, but fewer than 3 percent graduate.

Stiles said she believes the new foster care liaisons on campus will help improve those numbers.

For more information and resources, visit the Texas Youth Connection.

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