New Parents and Family Program initiative supports former foster youth
The Parents and Family Program (PFP) has one primary goal: to unconditionally support Wildcats. From keeping families informed to celebrating student achievements, the PFP serves a central role in helping families form lasting memories at K-State.
The Parents and Family Fund advances the K-State family through Student Life Initiatives. These initiatives include alcohol-free programing, Cats’ Cupboard, Family Day scholarships and the Career Closet, which allows students access to donated business attire free-of-charge. This fund also supports programming such as New Student Orientation and Wildcat Parents and Family Live panels, which were created this year to keep families virtually connected to K-State.
While taking a K-State Ph.D. course about diversity in higher education, Anne DeLuca, Parents and Family Program director, learned many universities offer student groups that specifically cater to former foster youth. She decided to research this more, and PFP’s former foster youth initiative was born. The initiative gained support through generous donations from Hy-Vee, the Parents and Family Advisory Board and the K-State community.
Through this fund, 14 students who were formerly involved in foster care have received support through a “Welcome to College” gift card. This welcome gift served as a small way to support the former foster youth and show them unconditional support from K-State family.
“Offering support to this group of students was so valuable,” said Anne. “Students shared they were able to purchase some fresh and new items for their dorm rooms. Others shared that the gift card was such a surprise and helped them fill a budget gap.”
This initiative also serves to connect former foster youth to Student Life resources such as Counseling Services, Cats’ Cupboard and Powercat Financial. Additionally, a social group, Fostering Success, was formed as an extension of the PFP initiative. The goal of the group is to meet throughout the year to provide support, create friendships and elevate the students’ K-State experience.
“It is encouraging that many of our former foster youth are already involved in different groups and organizations,” said Anne. “Fostering success is one more area where they can interact and make connections.”
Despite thinking that higher education would not be possible, Yami Sanchez, a sophomore and former foster youth came to K-State in the fall of 2019. While finding places to get connected, Yami searched for an organization entirely devoted to former foster youth. A year later, she was invited to be a part of the PFP initiative and now is one of the spearheads behind Fostering Success.
“I wanted to meet other people with similar situations or others with the title ‘former foster youth’,” said Yami. “We recently had a Zoom call and it was really nice to see similar kinds of people, all with different experiences.”
Currently, Fostering Success is becoming an Independent Student Organization. Through this group, Yami hopes to unite former foster youth to give back to the Manhattan community through volunteer and scholarship opportunities. Yami envisions Fostering Success to be a space for interpersonal relationships and a community of support, especially when these students would typically need to call a parent.
“Not all former foster youth come from happy foster families that are ready to help them if the need arises,” said Yami. “If financial expenses are something that can be taken care of for them, that is one less thing former foster youth have to worry about, so they can properly study and excel in whatever major they are in.”
In the future, Anne hopes to continue to support former foster youth as they reach different milestones throughout college.
“Offering a birthday card in the mail, a small care package or a welcome to college gift card are little personal touches that remind each student of unconditional support,” said Anne. “Donations toward our Parents and Family Fund are what make more of these personal touchpoints happen!”
For more information about how to support Fostering Success and the Parents and Family Program at K-State, please contact Heather Strafuss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-775-2146.
Written by: Ariana Brancato