Child Advocates of Fort Bend has expanded its WINGS program for teens “aging out” of the foster care system with a week-long summer session Campus Crawl. This program allows the youth to get a first-hand look at campus life and an opportunity to learn about the different degree programs, application requirements, and the application process. During the week of July 18th, twenty-four teens visited Texas State University, Houston Community College, Sam Houston State University, Wharton Junior College, Texas State Teaching College, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Lamar University. Each youth was required to complete an application and write an essay to be considered for the Campus Crawl Program.
“Foster children who will remain in CPS custody until they turn 18 need support, advocacy and guidance to make a successful transition to adult self-sufficiency“ said Ruthanne Mefford, Executive Director for Child Advocates of Fort Bend. “In Fort Bend County, these youth are offered very little in terms of services, resources and education to prepare them for adult life. We believe that education and basic life skills are critical to improving a child’s chances at achieving a normal life when they leave the foster care system.”
“In fact, less than 3% of youth aging out of foster care complete college. Many of these teens have never had anyone talk to them about college or encourage them to attend,” according to Heather Rashid, WINGS Team Leader at Child Advocates of Fort Bend. “We are hoping to help these children beat the odds and graduate from both high school and college.”
Thanks to a grant from Fort Bend Cares and the support of many generous donors, Child Advocates of Fort Bend is able to provide youth with hands-on training for real life experiences. During the week-long program, volunteers and staff guide the youth as they learn firsthand about continuing education options, today’s job market, money management and household management. They take field trips to local businesses where they learn to cook a meal, rent an apartment, purchase a car and practice their interviewing skills.
The program is so outstanding that Texas CASA has asked Child Advocates of Fort Bend to teach other programs around the state how to work better with teens.