FUTURES = Fostering Unity Towards Uplifting Resilience, Education, and Success
The focus of this project is to enhance self-determination and community participation to help young adults build skills to navigate the university system and increase postsecondary success and engagement. Project FUTURES will identify and outreach to all young adults who have been accepted or are enrolled as first year students at Portland State University, who have a history of significant mental health challenges, who are 23 years of age or younger, and who have spent at least 1 year in foster care between the ages of 16-21.Young adults who are in or were in foster care and are entering their freshman year at Portland State University will be paired with an upper division student at Portland State University. Upper division students will be identified as near peer coaches who are further along in their education and will support first year students for one year. Both the near-peer coaches and participants of FUTURES will have lived experience in the foster care system and mental health challenges.
Across the academic year, the participant would be supported to consider his or her current life and college experiences, and to identify and pursue short-term goals related to remaining and succeeding in higher education. Goals would be selected by the student and coaching would include relationship support (e.g., consistent, accepting, transparent), sharing and practicing skills (e.g., problem-solving, strategic self-disclosure in requesting accommodations), and experiential activities (e.g., visiting career center, informational interview with an employer, applying for financial aid or housing).
Students will also participate in: 1) a for-credit College Success class, tailored to address the unique needs of this group, 2) workshops throughout the year to build community among one another and with the larger university campus, 3) and be supported by campus champions serving as point-people across a variety of departments at the University (i.e., financial aid, disability resource center, housing, academic departmental staff and faculty, etc.) trained to provide tailored support to student participants.
Publications and Products
Journal Article: Assessing support network stability with transition-age foster youth: Measuring change over time
This article from Research on Social Work Practice examines a study that uses the Support Network Assessment for Practice (SNAP) approach to measure the support provided to young people transitioning from foster care.
Conference Proceedings: BUILDing Student Developmental Networks in Academic Settings.
Blakeslee, J. E., Richardson, D., Zell, A., & Keller, T. E. (2016). BUILDing student developmental networks in academic settings. In Dominguez, N. & Alexander, D. (Eds.), 9th Annual Mentoring Conference Proceedings: Developmental Networks: The Power of Mentoring and Coaching. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.
Tip Sheet: Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College
This tip sheet addresses issues that can hinder young adults in their efforts to attend or succeed in college. The tip sheet offers strategies to college faculty and staff to support students from foster care to overcome these issues.
Take Charge for the Future: Strategies for Enhancing Self-Determination with High-School and College Students
Presented at Blueprint for Success, Los Angeles, CA, October, 2015.
Stability of Racial and Ethnic Self-Identification Among Youths in Foster Care
Presented at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Denver, CO, October, 2015.