Foster Youth Support Services

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Ensuring students from foster care receive the support they need to succeed.

In partnership with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the Foundation offers foster youth service programs that empower foster youth to navigate the challenging transition into adulthood. Each year, approximately 4,000 of California's foster youth age out of foster care; many are left unequipped and unprepared to navigate the higher education system. Our programs support students from foster care, starting with academic support and extending to independent living skills, accessing financial aid and more, aiming to set them up for success in college and beyond.

Programs for current community college students

Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI)

The Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI) was introduced in 2007 by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office by establishing FYSI liaisons in each of the 116 California Community Colleges. FYSI liaisons provide support to current or prospective foster youth students. FYSI helps to develop a supportive and smooth transition for students from foster care. FYSI is supported by the Chancellor’s Office, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, and the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. For questions about FYSI, please contact the Statewide Foster Youth Success Initiative Liaison.

NextUp/CAFYES 

NextUp, also known as CAFYES (Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support), provides eligible community college students with resources that make a difference. NextUp/CAFYES is available on 45 California community college campuses. The program offers support and services that could include help with books and supplies, transportation, tutoring, food and emergency housing. To find out if your campus has a NextUp/CAFYES program, please visit the Chancellor's Office NextUp/CAFYES webpage.

Foster Youth Housing Project

The Foundation’s Foster Youth Housing Project aims to address the high percentage of foster youth in need of housing by laying the groundwork to build student housing for California community college students. The Foster Youth Housing Project will build off of current work occurring in Los Angeles, where one third of homeless youth were in the foster care system. Through research conducted in partnership with experts and advocates in the housing space, the project aims to identify opportunities to build student housing to support students and meet the unique needs of more vulnerable populations, with a specific focus on former foster youth. Findings will help inform and create a roadmap for future housing initiatives and developments across the California Community Colleges, aiming to ultimately provide students with more holistic, wrap-around support to help improve economic and social mobility statewide.

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Public Benefits for Foster Youth Project

Funded by a grant from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and in partnership with the Chancellor’s Office Basic Needs Taskforce, the Public Benefits for Foster Youth Project provides statewide resources primarily to foster youth in addition to all California Community College students.

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Programs for transition age foster youth

YESS–Independent Living Program

Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success (YESS) is a comprehensive and integrated program that unites community partners and academic leaders to empower foster youth to successfully transition into independent living. The YESS program is available to students age 16 to 21, and is available on 18 California community college campuses. The program provides services that focus on life skills training and academic performance with the objective of achieving self-sufficiency, college degree or certificate completion, and employment. 

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Find out which programs and supports are available on your campus

Each of the 116 California Community Colleges has a Foster Youth Liaison on campus. Additionally, many campuses have programs available to provide resources and support to students in foster care. To see the directory of California community college campus-based Foster Youth Liaisons, please click here. To find out more details about what programs specific campuses offer, please refer to California College Pathways.

Student resources

Complete the FAFSA: Apply by March 2 for maximum aid. Apply at fafsa.ed.gov or through the MyStudentAidmobile app. Current or former foster youth may qualify for “Independent Status” on the FAFSA, so be sure to answer each question carefully. You can still apply after March 2.

Apply for grants:

  • Chafee Grant: Apply by March 2 for maximum aid. Apply at chafee.csac.ca.gov. Foster youth students who were in care on or after their 16th birthday can apply up until age 26, and can receive the Chafee grant for up to 5 years. You can still apply after March 2.
  • CalGrant: Apply by March 2 for maximum aid. Apply at fafsa.ed.gov. Foster youth students who were in care on or after their 13th birthday can receive CalGrant for up to 8 years, and can apply up until age 26. Foster youth students in CCCs can apply through September 2.
  • California College Promise Grant: Apply at any time. Apply at cccapply.org. For eligible California residents, the California Community Colleges Promise Grant waives enrollment fees.

Register for classes early with priority registration. Priority registration dates vary by campus. Students who were in foster care on or after their 16th birthday have access to priority registration through age 26.

Apply for CalFresh. Students that participate in some of these foster youth support programs receive an exemption on the CalFresh application, which may increase eligibility. Apply at students.getcalfresh.org

Foundation for California
Community Colleges

1102 Q Street, Suite 4800
Sacramento, CA 95811

Toll Free: 866.325.3222
Fax: 916.325.0844

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Supporting our Work

Help the Foundation further its mission to benefit, support, and enhance the California Community Colleges.

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Who we serve

The Foundation serves as the official foundation supporting the Board of Governors, Chancellor’s Office, and the entire California Community College system, including 116 colleges and 73 districts, serving 2.1 million students.

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