Resources for Foster Care youth

Students who have been in the foster care system are substantially less likely than their peers to complete higher education.
This is a problem, as there are more than 60,000 foster children in California, and as of 2014, more than 20,000 of those children reside in Los Angeles County.
To help foster care students reach their goals, Citrus College, Chaffey College and Mt. San Antonio College offer Foster/Kinship Resource and Education Programs.
Emancipated Foster Youths are those students who were in foster care until they turned 18.
Students who qualify need only to self-identify as foster youth to gain the benefits of the Foster/Kinship Center, located inside the IC Building, west of the Veteran’s center.
To aid young adults who still needed foster care or kinship benefits, the AB12 law was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010.
Under AB12 these young adults may be classified as “non-minor dependent” and thus qualify to receive $830 a month if they meet certain criteria until age 21.
Many foster youths do not have the resources to enroll in college once they have aged out of the state’s foster care system.
Many are unprepared for adult life and in need of guidance for furthering their education and employment plans.
“The purpose of the Foster/Kinship Program is to give foster youths reinforcements to stay in college,” said Lil E. Sass, Foster/Kinship program coordinator.
These “reinforcements” include academic services such as assistance in filling out FAFSA forms, offering supplies and offering emotional support.
The center has an abundance of brochures, fliers and packets forming foster youth how to balance finances, pursue education, find employment and more.
The Foster/Kinship Center also offers classes and events to aid foster parents or new guardians, teaching them how to support and care for their adopted or foster child.
One such event was the 26th annual “Birth to 5” seminar held recently to offer aid and information to parents with developmentally challenged or disabled children up to 5 years old.
“I’ve been volunteering since 2009,” said Mikisha Deason, former foster child and citrus alumna, as she set up tables for the seminar.
Children in foster care often have had traumatic experiences with long-lasting effects.
“They have anywhere from minor to major PTSD and it’s important they know they have a safe place to come to,” Sass said.
While state funding may pay for supplies and computers for foster youth they are often in need of more immediate things.
Food is available for all foster youths at the center.
“It’s an excellent resource in case we have nothing to eat,” said Jose Juarez, an emancipated foster youth and student worker.
Sass suggests donations of food and water, as these students often do not have access to meals and rely on the snacks and instant meals is in the lounge of IC 182.
The Foster/Kinship Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.