Access to Higher Education - Fresno Superior Court

Community Outreach icon Project Name: Access to Higher Education
Court: Fresno Superior Court
   Documents: Event Materials
   Links: Court's Juvenile Website

Overview/Program Description:

Youth in the foster care system are at much higher risk for drug use, delinquency, and unplanned pregnancies than other teens. Education offers these youth a way to achieve a brighter future. While financial aid and other resources help them access post-secondary options, they do not always know how to find these resources or maximize their benefits. In Fresno and Madera Counties a large group of collaborators, including the Fresno Superior Court, host an annual event to help youth in foster care connect with the resources and information they need to attend college or enroll in specialized job training. Held on a community college campus in Fresno, the free, day-long conference offers a number of presentations and workshops on a variety of topics. These include: high school graduation requirements, the nuts and bolts of going to college, vocational or other job-training programs, financial assistance, and independent living resources.

The event also offers the teens the ability to interact with college students who were formerly in the foster care system as well as representatives from educational and vocational organizations. Dynamic speakers, lunch, music, and prize drawings keep the event fun and engaging for the youth.

Program Benefits/Savings:

In the past six years, more than 700 foster youth have attended the annual conference. In 2012, social service and justice organizations from Madera County joined the collaboration, and youth from that area began participating.

Participants complete an exit survey. Each year, the vast majority of youth indicate that the Access to Higher Education event prompted them to consider college or vocational training options for the first time. They also indicate that the event provides valuable information, linkages, and planning tools to support post-secondary goals. The event is opening the door to brighter, crime-free futures for foster youth, which ultimately benefits the court, the community and these foster youth.