PDCCC offers program for foster youth

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A new program at Paul D. Camp Community College will assist foster care youth in achieving educational and career success.

“I think it will be bridging the gap with resources for a lot of these individuals,” said Karen Owens, Great Expectations coach.

The Great Expectations program offers young people in the foster system resources to help them apply and find out how to pay for post-secondary education. Owens will also be a consistent piece in their life to help them throughout the process.

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“While they are at school, this gives them a consistent person,” Owens said. “They don’t always have someone in their corner, and I get to be that constant they need to get through school.”

Foster youth are paired with an adult coach, and they work together to assess skills and interests, discuss the future and develop a plan for enrolling in college. The program helps them finish high school, continue their education through community college and successfully transition to living independently.

While the program is in place to provide educational resources for the students, the program also allows Owens access to an emergency fund. The fund can be used to provide small needs for students.

“If someone’s battery dies, I can provide them the funds to get them a new computer battery,” Owens said.

Owens is happy to take the position and work with foster youth.

“I’m becoming a bigger advocate for the kids. People sometimes have a hard time and I’m able to fill in the blanks with things they don’t know,” Owens said. “I just want to see them succeed.”

“Karen will work with foster youth in the service region to inspire their passion for higher education,” Dean of Student Services Trina Jones said in a press release. “Karen is experienced in working with a diverse population and is eager to assist in the process of better human development of our targeted population.”

The program hasn’t gotten started yet, but Owens is working to market the program to other programs in the area.

“I’m doing marketing right now, and I do have one student that will enroll in the fall,” Owens said. “We are just doing the marketing and getting materials together. I’ve been behind the scenes and meeting different people trying to find students.”