Webinar archive

See our YouTube page for recordings of our Webinars. 

We will continue to post the Power Point presentations here, but all video recordings will be posted to the YouTube page.

April 21st, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Geiger (Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois Chicago) and Dr. Nathanael Okpych (University of Connecticut School of Social Work)

This presentation will discuss findings from a study using data from the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) that examined the roles that state-level policies and programs (e.g., tuition waivers, extended foster care, ETV, Chafee funding), youth-level participation in programs and services (e.g., financial assistance and education and employment training), and youth characteristics (e.g., gender, race, disability status) play in connectedness to education and employment at age 21 among youth with foster care histories.

March 24th, 2021

Royel Johnson, Assistant Professor & Research Associate, Department of Education Policy Studies, The Pennsylvania State University

This session will focus on the development and evolution of a cross-sector collaboration aimed to broadening college access for young people in foster care. Research and evaluation findings will be presented as well as practical recommendations for those interested in replicating this cost-effective program.

February 23rd, 2021

Dr. Sebrena Jackson is an Assistant Professor and MSW Program Director at The University of Alabama School of Social Work. Dr. Jackson’s practice and research focuses on online education and post-secondary education access for youth transitioning from foster care, particularly pre-college programs.

Dr. Toni Naccarato is an Associate Professor at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) in the Department of Social Work. Dr. Naccarato’s research focuses on emancipation, welfare, and human capital accumulation of at-risk adolescents in the areas of employment, education, positive youth development, and health and mental health, with a special focus on youth transitioning out of foster care.

The purpose of this study is to give voice to former youth in foster care in what their lived experience has been to achieve their educational goals, why the individual chose the social work profession, and what supports and services were available for them to achieve their social work career and educational goals. It is our hope that this information will change the narrative around the negative outcomes typically associated with youth in the foster care system and to help inform policies and practices to better serve youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

November 12th, 2020

Dr. Rachel Kirk is Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Anchor Program Manager which includes the university’s foster student program, Island Harbor. Tyrese Tate is a current student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and was part of the inaugural Island Harbor cohort. David Halpern is an assistant general counsel in the A&M System with responsibilities that include student affairs law. 

The Texas A&M System is blazing a trail for peer institutions across the state and nation.   It’s a partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to provide food, shelter, and an education to Texas’ foster alumni at no cost to the students.   Supervised Independent Living has taken root in the Lone Star State.

Preparing foster youth for college:

A Pre-college Summer Program Experience

Sebrena Jackson, MSW, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and MSW Program Director, University of Alabama School of Social Work

Only 20% of foster youth who graduate high school enroll in college. Studies suggest one major factor contributing to low college attendance is a lack of college preparation. This presentation will discuss a 6 week summer program designed specifically for foster youth, The National Social Work Enrichment Program (NSEP). The four key program components of NSEP will be discussed. Implications for social work practice, policy, and research will also be highlighted.

How former foster youth

finance their eduction

Jacob P. Gross, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration, University of Louisville

Former foster youth are more likely than peers in higher education to come from a low-income family, yet they are less likely to apply for and receive financial aid. Despite high aspirations, paying for college represents a real barrier to attaining a higher education for former foster youth. This presentation will discuss these barriers along with the common ways in which former foster youth finance their education. Implications for practitioners at the high school and college level will be discussed.

Former foster youth are more likely than peers in higher education to come from a low-income family, yet they are less likely to apply for and receive financial aid. Despite high aspirations, paying for college represents a real barrier to attaining a higher education for former foster youth. This presentation will discuss these barriers along with the common ways in which former foster youth finance their education. Implications for practitioners at the high school and college level will be discussed.




Eunice Matthews-Armstead, Ph.D., LCSW 

Professor, Social Work Program Director at Eastern Connecticut State University 

We are honored to present Eunice Matthews-Armstead, Professor of Social Work at Eastern Connecticut State University. Her presentation, shares the results of a focus group and individual interviews that she conducted with foster care alumni students that explored what students felt contributed to their success and what they thought they needed. She will also talk about the design of a pilot program on her campus.

but I thought they had a free ride?:

Exploring the benefits and limitations of state tuition waivers for youth formerly in foster care

Toni Watt

Professor of Sociology, Texas State University

We are honored to present Toni Watt.  Her presentation, shares the results of studies that examine student tuition waiver access and challenges related to access, and calls for states to attend to the implementation/uptake of their state waiver programs.

The Washington Passport Network – Leveraging Collective Impact

Fred Kingston

 Program Manager, College Success Foundation

Washington state has set an impact goal of parity in educational outcomes for foster youth and their non-foster peers by 2027. The Washington Passport Network, a statewide collective impact initiative supported by the College Success Foundation, is working at the individual campus, regional, and statewide level to promote effective practices and policies. The lynchpin of the approach is the Passport to Careers scholarship – a state funded scholarship and support program that creates a programmatic framework and dedicated funding to coordinate and sustain this work with increasing fidelity.

From Research to Policy: Lessons learned from California

Debbie Raucher

John Burton Advocates for Youth in California

This presentation discusses how California’s collective impact effort, known as California College Pathways, has strategically invested in programs, research, data and advocacy to motivate large scale systems change designed to improve post-secondary outcomes for foster youth. The conscious inclusion of coordinated investment in a research agenda from the project’s inception has been key to its success. This webinar also highlights the results of the research work and share how this research has directly informed State policy and enabled the leverage of over $80 million since 2015.

Findings from a Near-Peer Coaching Intervention for College Students with Foster Care Backgrounds and Mental Health Challenges

Jennifer Blakeslee

Becky Miller

Portland State University

Project FUTURES: Findings from a Near-Peer Coaching Intervention for College Students with Foster Care Backgrounds and Mental Health Challenges, will present a range of findings and lessons learned from FUTURES interventions study, which is one of a number of projects conducted through the Pathways Research and Training Center at Portland State University (https://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/). In their presentation they will: (1) describe the development and implementation of the FUTURES model, (2) present preliminary analysis of intervention impact on student outcomes related to self-determination, self-efficacy, and mental health, and academic success, and (3) share lessons learned for future research and practice with this population. Additionally, they will share findings from a qualitative sub-study exploring student perspectives of their mental health experiences and foster care backgrounds in the college context, and describe how these are interrelated in ways that inform campus-based programming to support college success for these young people.

Alabama REACH: Building Capacity through a Participatory Program Evaluation

Leah Cheatham,

Assistant Professor

University of Alabama School of Social Work


Shannon Hubbard, LMSW

Program Coordinator of Alabama REACH

Adjunct Instructor at The University of Alabama School of Social Work

This presentation will (1) introduce the Alabama REACH program, which supports University of Alabama students from challenged backgrounds, including foster care alumni (who comprise the majority of program participants). Next, they will (2) describe the ongoing program evaluation; these evaluative efforts seek to build program capacity through stakeholder and participant engagement. They will (3) share their preliminary evaluation findings, focusing on narratives of REACH Scholars’ perceptions of the program value as well as and hopes for program growth. Last, they will (4) discuss continuing efforts to translate findings and recommendations into actionable program change.

Early Evidence from the CalYOUTH Study: The Roles of EFC, ETVs, and CSPs on Postsecondary Education Outcomes for Foster YoutH

 Dr. Nate Okpych

Assistant Professor

University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work


 Dr. Ethan Park

Assistant Professor

University of Michigan’s School of Social Work

Looking beyond graduation: Experiences of students who were involved in a campus-based support program

Dr. Lisa Schelbe

Associate Professor

Florida State University College of Social Work

Lisa Jackson

Associate Director

Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement at Florida State University

 This presentation, entitled Looking beyond graduation: Experiences of students who were involved in a campus-based support program, will present the Unconquered Scholars Program at Florida State University and a study of the students after graduation. The study surveys 31 students at graduation, 6 months post-graduation, and one-year post-graduation to explore their experiences. Findings indicate that at graduation, students have post-graduation plans and are optimistic. At follow-up, graduates identified obstacles including finances and lack of support. Study findings have implications for preparing students with a history of foster care and homelessness for life after graduation.

Utilizing Data from the Jim Casey Initiative to Improve Educational Outcomes

Maddy Day

Site Liaison

 Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

Dr. Rachel Rosenberg

Research Scientist

Child Trends

 This presentation is entitled Utilizing Data from the Jim Casey Initiative to Improve Educational Outcomes. The Jim Casey Initiative is focused on all young people aged 14-26 who have experienced one day or more in foster care after their 14th birthday have the relationships, resources, and opportunities to ensure well-being and success. This webinar will provide highlights from recent research publications by the Initiative and discuss the practice and policy implications to support young people to achieve educational success.

First Star Academy: Reflections on an Innovative Program for Foster Youth on a College Campus

Bridget Colacchio Wesley

First Star Loyola Academy

 Loyola University Chicago

The inaugural cohort of youth participated through their high school graduation and most made the transition into college or work. The presenter documented programmatic and clinical observations throughout the experience, and also analyzed youth interview data related to the youths' experiences and the outcomes of the program. This session will provide insights for practitioners considering how to best support foster youth in and through high school and beyond, and for scholars looking at questions of youth well-being and relationships. 

Creating a Pipeline of Educational Support for Foster Youth and Alumni: The Bexar County Pilot Project

Megan Piel, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Airika Buford, LLMSW, Project Director of the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot

 University of Texas at San Antonio

The Texas State Legislature recently funded a multi-tiered approach to improving educational outcomes for foster youth and alumni in Bexar County, Texas. The pilot project includes both 2- and 4- year postsecondary institutions to support foster alumni currently on our campuses, as well as critical partnerships with the children’s court, court-appointed special advocate (CASA) organization, K-12 independent school districts, and the state child welfare agency to develop a college-bound docket and enhanced educational advocacy for youth in foster care. This webinar highlights early successes of the pilot as well as important practice and policy implications for multisystemic collaborations and creating a broader scope of educational support for foster youth and alumni.

Fostering Panther Pride: Collaboration on Supporting Success for Former Foster Youth and Homeless Students in College

Dr. Sonja Montas-Hunter is Assistant Vice Provost, Office of Student Access and Success, Florida International University

Ana Ramos, MSW, is the Program Director of Fostering Panther Pride at FIU. 

Hui Huang, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor in School of Social Work at FIU.

Sofia B. Fernandez, PhD, MSW, is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of Epidemiology at FIU.

This presentation introduces the Fostering Panther Pride (FPP) program, a campus support program at Florida International University (FIU). Launched in 2013, FPP has been serving FIU students from three types of backgrounds: former foster youth, adoptees from the Florida State DCF, and students with homeless experience. This presenters include program administrators and researchers. They will present information on the funding mechanism of FPP, its service components, findings from their evaluation research, and continuous collaborations between program administrators and researchers.

Angelique Day is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington and a faculty affiliate of Partners for Our Children, an independent research and policy think tank associated with the UW School of Social Work.  She is also a co-founder of the National Research Collaborative on Foster Alumni in Higher Education.

This presentation will provide an overview of recently enacted administrative policy by the Children's Bureau and proposed legislative policy efforts that have been introduced to address college access and retention rates of foster and homeless youth.  The national election is now only months away; this presentation will be interactive and time will be allocated to generate new public policy ideas to be included on NRC's advocacy agenda for the new administration.

Sharpening the View: Improving Foster Youth Data to Boost Educational Outcomes

Dan Kinney (Board Member), Jim Lanich (President and CEO), Lysha Lewis (Research Analyst), Vanessa Marrero (Senior Director of Outreach & Engagement), Educational Results Partnership

This presentation highlights the importance of actionable data to improve educational outcomes for foster youth in California. Combining the lessons learned from the previous foster youth research conducted at Educational Results Partnership, this presentation provides the key role that data has in increasing equity for foster youth.

October 15th, 2020

Svetlana Shpiegel, Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, Montclair State University

This presentation will provide an overview of research on postsecondary educational attainment among expectant and/or parenting foster youth (EPY). Disparities in EPY’s access to higher educational will be discussed using data from the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), and recommendations for critical supports and services to assist these youth will be provided. The added challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic will also be discussed.