Your Support Team
Growing up in foster care typically brings many additional challenges to Seita scholars that are not often shared with the general student population. In addition to Seita staff, Seita scholars also have support of many others on campus and in the community including:
- Seita FYS instructors and student leaders
- Seita scholar peer leaders
- AFSCME Local 1668 and other volunteers
- Career mentors
- Amazing staff members in other WMU departments and programs
The Seita staff and Seita peer leaders work to level the playing field in seven life domains. Some examples of challenges faced by college students from foster care are:
- Academics: Foster youth change high schools twice as often as non-foster youth and as a result are behind in English, math and science; trauma from childhood can compromise memory and ability to pay attention, thus interfering with learning.
- Finances: Foster youth are at higher risk for identify theft; they are less likely to name someone that can lend them $50 to cover a money crisis; they have no one to co-sign loans.
- Housing: Foster youth often have no home to return to during semester breaks when the residence halls close.
- Physical and Mental Health: Foster youth are more likely to have ongoing health issues stemming from conditions of childhood and the foster-care experience; they have often missed out on the important information about nutrition, exercise and rest to support good health.
- Social Relationships and Community Connections: For most foster youth, growing up in foster is an isolating experience; when leaving foster care many foster youth reconnect with biological families in an effort to make sense of their growing-up experience, and some are never able to reestablish biological family ties.
- Personal and Cultural Identity: Young people who have grown up in foster care will tell you there is a culture to foster care that is not understood by other people in society. While most Seita scholars entered foster care through Child Protective Services, about one in five Seita scholars entered foster care as unaccompanied minors from third world countries (refugees).
- Life Skills: Foster youth must master complex life skills at very young ages in order to manage their lives as young adults; foster youth manage relationships with foster parents, attorneys and caseworkers; their budgeting skills must include understanding of fiscal years for financial aid and DHS; they are individually responsible for filing tax returns; they must navigate Medicaid to get basic healthcare needs met.