*Photo credit: NPR
Jasmine Uqdah spent nearly half of her life in foster care, moving to several different foster homes and changing schools. In 2008, she turned 18 and aged out of the foster care system. She is quoted in a recent NPR article saying the experience felt “pretty scary, to be honest.” Uqdah had no job, no home, no family and no support system. She had been accepted to Wayne State University in Detroit, but with no money to pay for school, Uqdah had no choice but to take out student loans.
“It’s pretty difficult to stay focused on your education when you have to worry about other life issues – like having somewhere to stay, having food to eat and just the general support for motivation to stay in school.”
Uqdah’s transition to college life was harder than she thought, and after two semesters, she dropped out. With more than $15,000 in debt, she took on a second job to repay her loans. Nationally, only 2% of youth who age out of foster care graduate from institutes of higher learning.
A few years later, Uqdah received help from a new initiative called Fostering Success Michigan, which aims to help the state’s youth aging out of foster care attend college and graduate. She was able to re-enroll at a community college, and it didn’t cost her a thing. Uqdah is on track to get her associate degree this winter and hopes to go on and get her bachelor’s degree in social work.
Click here to read more about Jasmine Uqdah’s journey since aging out of foster care.
It takes more than tuition assistance for these young people to succeed. Youth emerging from foster care require a specialized learning environment and significant support to bridge the gap from dependence in foster care to successful independent living. KVC Health Systems has launched the national #NeverStopCaring initiative to bring awareness to this national crisis, and propose one very promising solution: the creation of a specialized career college that will give these youth the hands-on vocational training and other support they need to transition to adulthood. A closing naval base in West Virginia is the ideal facility for this national model of how to help youth aging out of foster care.
Visit www.kvc.org/sgc to learn more and add your voice to this exciting campaign.