MSU foster care program provides help for students

MSU has provided environmental economics and policy junior Molly Black, who was in foster care from age 10 to 19, with the support to adjust to college life.

Black is one of many MSU students who use MSU Foster Youth Alumni Services, or FAME, a program that provides support to students who were or are in foster care. Thanks to an awarded contract from the Michigan Department of Human Services, FAME now will bring in additional help for students to use for scheduled and monthly visits, helping with everything from financial management to finding community resources.

MSU was one of seven colleges and universities in Michigan to receive an awarded contract, which is similar to a grant, to be used for funding a social worker at each school to counsel and assist students with issues and planning for their futures.

FAME used the money to hire Andrea Martineau as the lead life skills coach for the new FAME Coaching Program.

“Students’ transition out of foster care and adjusting to life at a university can be very challenging,” Martineau said.

“There’s a lot of help available; it’s just a matter of getting them connected to that.”

David Akerly, director of marketing and public relations for the Michigan Department of Human Services, said historically, about 10 percent of foster care youth attend college, but the number is rising. He said most students have two parents to lean on for support, but some foster care students do not.

“It’s not a replica, and it’s not a replacement for mom and dad, but it’s much (more) preferable than what it has been in the past,” Akerly said. “These programs aim to change that by providing (students) with baseline support.”

Martineau said there currently are six students in the coaching program, but she is hoping more will get involved. The coaching program allows for students to meet individually with an adviser once a month. Students can receive help with life skills, such as accessing health care and housing and transportation needs.

“It’s a lot about setting goals and just moving forward and making (sure) you are proactive in your school(work),” she said.

Black said she feels she fits in and always has someone to talk to at the FAME center in Baker Hall.
“It’s a really good support system, especially (for students) who don’t have a support system at home or don’t have any at all,” she said.

Black said there are a lot of resources on campus for that students might not know about.
She said more youth, previously or currently in foster care, might go to school if they knew the number of resources MSU offers.

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