For foster care youth, obtaining a quality education is difficult. Foster care youth often live in areas with high levels of poverty, which means attending under-funded, low achieving schools. Foster care youth also struggle with housing insecurity that results in changing residences an average of three times per year. These are some of the reasons that foster care youth 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 foster care youth manage to continue their educational pursuits beyond high school. But only 3% of foster care youth complete their academic journey by graduating from college with a bachelor's degree by the age of 25.
The mission of CHAMPS is to increase college access and improve graduation rates of court-involved youth (foster care, juvenile justice and dual-wards) from southeast Michigan, advance the education well-being of youth who age out of foster care through the development and provision of best practices in academic excellence, applied learning, and evaluation that examines issues of strategic importance to the child welfare, K-12, and higher education service sector.
The model for CHAMPS is based on the Casey Family Programs "It's My Life" Seven Life Domains (2001) that promote 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).