Sneak Preview: ED, HHS Promote Resources To Help At-Risk Youth

June 24, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(The follxgran_bookshotowing was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Officials from the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) are collaborating to develop a guide that would provide information about available federal and state educational programs and resources to help youth in foster care and unaccompanied homeless youth pursue college enrollment, in response to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

GAO said studies show that a lower percentage of youth who have been in foster care enroll in and complete college compared to other youth. It cited ED data from 2009 concluding that 14 percent of foster youth earned a bachelor’s degree within six years compared to 31 percent for other students. ED currently is collecting data on college completion by unaccompanied homeless youth (i.e., those homeless youth who are not in the physical custody of their parents or guardians) and expects to make results available in 2017.

ED administers federal student aid programs, such as Pell Grants and federal loans that help low- and middle-income students pay college costs. In addition, ED’s McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program requires all school districts to designate a McKinney-Vento homeless liaison to help homeless students succeed in school. For its part, HHS administers the Chafee Education and Training Voucher Program, which helps older foster youth pay for college, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Transitional Living Program, which funds shelters and services to help homeless youth become self-sufficient, including assistance with college planning. However, these programs do not specifically focus on helping foster care and homeless youth obtain college degrees.

GAO explained that several factors make it difficult for many foster and homeless youth to attend college, including weak academic backgrounds, limited family support and a lack of awareness about available financial resources. “Federal program requirements call for child welfare caseworkers and McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons to have some role in helping these students plan for college,” GAO said. “In practice, however, these professionals are often focused on helping these youth find housing and graduate from high school, and their expertise with college planning and child welfare systems have differing purposes and competing priorities that do not necessarily focus on college planning.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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