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How this legislation puts a quality education within reach for foster kids: OpEd

A foster mom colors at her home with her 6-year-old foster child.
A foster mom colors at her home with her 6-year-old foster child.

I’m a Penn State graduate who has worked with youth in the foster care system for 16 years, and I’m thrilled by the possible passing of The Fostering Independence Through Education Act (HB #1745).

Young people in the foster care system lack so many of the supports that other youth have - supports that make it easier for us to reach college. These include supportive families, strong ties to one school or community, potential financial assistance from family, and supportive adults who help us fill out and understand financial aid forms and encourage us to achieve great things.

Youth in foster care have so much to contribute to this world and have often been through so much hardship and trauma. Many of the youth I’ve worked with are brilliant, creative, and have dreams that would be so much more easily achieved if HB 1745 passes. Many of them would not even dream of applying to college because it seems so far out of their reach.

HB 1745 puts a quality education, like the one I received at PSU, within their reach. In recent years, PSU has taken an admirable leadership role in showing how institutions of higher education can take action to protect children and improve the futures of some of our most vulnerable youth.

I look forward to seeing PSU champion HB 1745 and continue its efforts to improve child welfare in PA. I speak to many young people about college and they always ask where I went. I tell them Penn State, and their eyes light up at the thought of someday going there, too. HB 1745 would make it so much more possible. Erica Smith, Philadelphia, PA PSU Class of 2001