NPR spoke with a recently “aged-out” young lady. Jasmine Uqdah was four years old when her dad died. Jasmine lived alone with her mom who, she says, wasn’t much of a mother, until the state removed her and placed her in foster care.
Jasmine attended 15 different schools and lived in 24 homes until she turned 18 and moved out to be on her own. Not owning a car, having a job, or even a checking account, Jasmine at least had an acceptance letter to a university in Detroit. She did not have any money. After two semesters and over $15,000 in debt, Jasmine dropped out and took on a second job to try to support herself.
Jasmine’s plight is not unique. Every year 20,000 kids age out of foster care in the United States. About half of those youth drop out of high school and a very small percentage make it to college. But there are states who are trying to change those statistics. Michigan is one of them.
Fostering Success Michigan is an organization that teams with colleges and universities throughout the state to provide full-ride scholarships to young adults who have been in the foster care system. Besides providing financial support, the organization offers programs to support the students in all areas of college life. The support system includes career counseling, learning the ins and outs of campus life, and finding work.
For Jasmine, the Fostering Success Michigan program has been providential. She is now enrolled in a community college and prospering as a student.
Other states are following Michigan’s example and working to help our country’s youth have educational advantages. State programs vary, but the nation is coming together to lift and support those who have been raised in foster care.