KVC Is Developing a College Campus in West Virginia
KVC Health Systems, Inc. (KVC), a private, nonprofit child welfare and behavioral health organization, is establishing the nation’s first college campus designed specifically to support youth transitioning from foster care. This 118-acre campus, located in Montgomery, West Virginia, is the former home of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech). Through a 25-year lease purchase agreement, KVC took possession of the furnished facility in July 2017 and immediately began repurposing the campus into a fully-capable educational environment with subtle wraparound supports to create a safe, nurturing environment for young adults transitioning from the foster care system.
Bettering Life After Foster Care
Each year nearly 30,000 young adults age out of foster care nationally without a support system or adequate life and career skills to transition into independent, successful adults. An overwhelming number of these young people experience chronic unemployment, homelessness, have substance use issues or become absorbed into the criminal justice system. A very small percentage of emerging youth earn degrees or complete career training after high school and many do not successfully finish high school.
Many state child welfare systems, including West Virginia, recognize these unique challenges and offer services beyond the age of 18. These services require the young adult to opt in to receive services or benefits and include allowances for college tuition and living expenses. These programs are designed to assist transitioning youth with financial self-sufficiency, career skills/secondary education, access to health care services, and healthy connections with adults and the community. However, without adequate support, many young people do not remain in the system and fall into undesirable situations.
The availability of the WVU Tech campus offers a unique opportunity to establish a model to address this system-wide gap. Through KVC’s existing collaborative partnerships BridgeValley Community & Technical College, the YMCA, WVU Tech, and many other national foundations, state governments, and child advocacy groups, the KVC college campus will implement research-based, state-of-the-art educational programming blended with supportive care. This program will evolve to ensure the inclusion of evidence-based practices to provide the best possible advantage for this underserved population.
Aging Out Without… A Home. An Education. A Future.
The implementation of a program of this magnitude in an economically disadvantaged area requires tremendous investment, planning, and support. To this end, KVC has invested years in building a well-developed plan and implementation team. To date, KVC:
- Is in possession of the property from West Virginia University
- Hired initial staff for facility maintenance
- Executed collaborative partnership agreements with many state and local stakeholders like Bridge Valley Community & Technical College and the YMCA of the Kanawha Valley
- Initiated a capital campaign to raise funding for operations and scholarship endowments
One Move Away from Being a Success Story
The foundation for the KVC college concept includes the use of existing state and federal foster care resources already allocated for each participating youth and applying those resources to the operations and maintenance of the facility. However, KVC understands that the authorization for application of traditional support dollars to nontraditional programs takes time. It is for this reason that KVC is committing its corporate resources to:
- Finding and leveraging available programs and grant funding wherever possible. Multiple grant applications have been submitted with one already awarded
- Investing in a capital campaign to generate resources for operational programs and the establishment of an endowment for scholarships
- Seeking federal support for programmatic funding to support operational and capital costs during the transition and establishment of the campus
KVC is assuming tremendous risk in launching this innovative concept. Although research and data all clearly identify this as a gap in the child welfare system, the KVC concept will require time to become fully sustainable.
For KVC, the impact of helping thousands of young adults better transition into meaningful employment and self-sufficiency is worth the investment. Each successful student that graduates from the campus and achieves self-reliance will reduce the cycle of dependency in youth formally in care, saving Federal and State tax dollars. Further, economic analysis demonstrate a staggering positive impact on the community and region.
Youth need your support. Get involved today.
KVC has the vision, plan, and expertise to transform the lives of youth transitioning from foster care and bring hope to Montgomery and the Upper Kanawha Valley. Quoting from the Dave Thomas Foundation, “…If a child ages out of care, ask: Who is taking this personally? Who feels responsible? To whom can the child look and ask, Why don’t I have a family?”
KVC is taking this personally – KVC will make a difference for thousands of these young adults. But we need your help.
KVC is actively seeking partners of all kinds and giving levels to make this life-changing college a reality. Will you make a gift toward our capital campaign? Contact Thomas Bailey, KVC’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, a firstname.lastname@example.org or (304) 542-4698.
Thomas Bailey is leading KVC Health Systems’ initiative to create this college in Montgomery. KVC is a Kansas-based nonprofit organization charged with enhancing the lives of children and families. Prior to joining the KVC team, Bailey worked in government relations for Spilman, Thomas and Battle, PLLC and is a state and federal lobbyist. Mr. Bailey is also a veteran of the armed forces with more than 20 years of service and is a Major in the Army Reserves. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. He has degrees from Marshall University and the Naval Postgraduate School.
KVC West Virginia operates in 26 West Virginia counties with nine office locations and 120 case managers, therapists and highly-trained staff. It helps children and families through in-home behavioral healthcare, wraparound support, foster care, and adoption. Learn more at www.kvcwv.org.
KVC Health Systems, headquartered in the greater Kansas City area, is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization committed to enriching and enhancing the lives of children and families by providing medical and behavioral healthcare, social services, and education. KVC’s diverse continuum of services includes in-home family support, foster care, adoption, behavioral healthcare, and children’s psychiatric hospitals. In its 47-year history, KVC has grown from a single Kansas home for boys to a national organization touching over 60,000 people’s lives each year in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky and West Virginia and providing training and consultation internationally. KVC is accredited by The Joint Commission, considered the gold standard in healthcare. Learn more at www.kvc.org.