March 28, 2002

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services



Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs/Licensing Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Susan N. Dreyfus


Higher Education Opportunities for Youth


Youth who have been placed in out-of-home care placements have had a difficult time accessing and achieving higher education and training after leaving care due to "aging out." In the June 2000 report, Independent Living for Children in Out-of-Home Care, by Mark E. Courtney and Irving Piliavin, 79% of 113 youth interviewed indicated they wanted to enter college; however, 12-18 months after leaving care, only 55% had completed high school and only 9% had entered college. This lack of higher education and training contributes to many of the problems encountered by youth after leaving care. These youth experience higher rates of unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, and incarceration than youth who were never placed in out-of-home care.

Addressing access to higher education and training for these youth requires the involvement of many groups and individuals, including post secondary educational institutions, child welfare professionals, families, foster parents and youth. T o help address the challenges faced by these youth, the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the educational community have developed an advisory group consisting of representatives from the state university system, private colleges, technical colleges, and the Department of Public Instruction. The Higher Education Opportunities for Youth (HEOY) Advisory Group's mission is to help youth formerly in out-of-home care access and achieve higher levels of education and training.

We want you to be aware of important resources so that you can help educate and motivate youth to pursue not only high school diplomas but also education and training beyond high school. Attached for your information and use is a handout entitled, "Let's Get These Kids in College!" T his document highlights simple strategies and provides a list of some of the opportunities, scholarships and resources that are currently available but may be underutilized by youth in out-of-home care placements and their families.

Also included in the document are some ideas about how to start making contacts about these resources and options. Please share this simple handout with other professionals, youth, their families and foster parents. For additional information that may not be included in this handout, please contact one of the Advisory Group members listed below.


Paula Brown, Independent Living and Kinship Coordinator
HEOY Advisory Group Member
Telephone: (608) 267-7287
E-mail: brownpl@dhfs.state.wi.us


Christine Lenske, Outreach Specialist
University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee
HEOY Advisory Group Member
Telephone: (414) 227-3106
E-mail: clenske@uwm.edu


Denny Roark, Student Service Coordinator
Higher Education Location Program (HELP)
HEOY Advisory Group Member
Telephone: (608) 263-4567
E-mail: roark@learn.uwsa.edu

Thank you for assisting us in making this important information available to individuals who work with youth in out-of-home care.


Paula Brown
(608) 267-7287
e-mail: brownpl@dhfs.state.wi.us 

Attachment:  Let's Get These Kids in College!  (pdf 14 kb)  


Foster Care Coordinators
Child Protective Service Workers
Independent Living Coordinators
Kinship Care Contact Persons
Mary Kennedy, BMCW
Higher Education Opportunities for Youth Advisory Group
Ruth Murphy, BPP

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.