For students with lived experience in foster care, obtaining a quality education is difficult. Youth from foster care often live in areas with high levels of poverty, which means attending under-funded, low achieving schools. Youth from foster care also struggle with housing insecurity that results in changing residences an average of three times per year. These are some of the reasons that youth from foster care are twice as likely to repeat a grade and half as likely to graduate from high school in five years when compared to their non-foster care peers. Even with these difficulties, many youth from foster care manage to continue their educational pursuits beyond high school. But less than 10% of students from foster care complete their academic journey by graduating from college with a bachelor's degree by the age of 25.
Champions Aspiring to Make Pathways to Success (CHAMPS) is a campus-based support program serving undergraduate-level students that have spent time in foster care at Wayne State University. CHAMPS' mission is to improve post-secondary outcomes and improve graduation rates of system-involved youth through best practices in academic excellence.
The model for CHAMPS is based on the Casey Family Programs "It's My Life" Seven Life Domains (2001) that promotes independence among youth with child welfare history. These seven domains include:
- Physical and Mental Health
- Finances and Employment
- Supportive and community relationships
- Personal and cultural identity
- Life Skills
Our commitment to diversity & inclusion
We, at the CHAMPS Program at Wayne State University, aim to strengthen the knowledge and decision-making of higher education communities, local, state and federal legislators and community stakeholders in order to cultivate an inclusive culture that would meet the needs of the youth we serve. We strive to have a program that is reflective of CHAMPS' mission, to increase college access and improve graduation rates of foster care youth, all while assuring that CHAMPS encompasses a unit that is reflective of diversity and is capturing more than physical attributes but a comprehensive consideration of one's life experience (e.g. disabilities, spirituality, sexual orientation, gender identity, permanency, ethnicity and religion).