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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2015 02:22 PM
From: Representative David S. Hickernell
To: All House members
Subject: Fostering Independence Through Education Act (Former HB 656 - 2013-2014 Legislative Session)

I am writing to invite you to join with me in cosponsoring a bill that I will be reintroducing in the near future that enacts the Fostering Independence Through Education Act. This important bill will help assist children in foster care with the challenges of accessing higher educational opportunities.

In brief, my legislation:
  • Creates a tuition and fee waiver program for youth in substitute care, to be made available by all State postsecondary educational institutions. These schools include all State owned universities, State-related and State-aided colleges and universities, trade schools and community colleges.

  • Sets forth eligibility criteria for foster and substitute care youth to participate in the program, including the maintenance of satisfactory progress in postsecondary educational work.

  • Requires a coordinated effort by state agencies and the governing bodies of all State postsecondary educational institutions to ensure that eligible students access existing available State and Federal grants.

  • Implements an outreach program through county agencies to encourage prospective eligible foster and substitute care youth to participate in this program.

  • Requires the governing bodies of all State postsecondary educational institutions to evaluate retention rates of students who participate in this program and make recommendations on how to improve the program so it can maximize its effectiveness.

I am introducing this legislation because in our Commonwealth, more than 22,000 youth are in foster care and each year more than 1,000 of these children “age out” of the system. Sadly, only 50% of foster youth graduate from high school and only 13% go on to college.

Without additional supports, it is clear that these children face significant challenges to ensure their future independence from government assistance.

Emancipated foster youth, who do not have parents to rely on for support and guidance, already suffer unique disadvantages compared with other students. One of the other critical hurdles for this student population is finding the financial resources to fund their education. While the General Assembly cannot replace parents, it can certainly help eliminate or greatly reduce the financial barriers to higher education for these students.

Please join me in my efforts to assist foster and substitute care children in promoting their independence through educational opportunities by cosponsoring this bill.


Introduced as HB453