Child Welfare

Creating a Pathway to Higher Education for Youth with Experience in Foster Care

March 29, 2023 | Ohio

Creating a Pathway to Higher Education for Youth with Experience in Foster Care

March 29, 2023

This week, CDF-Ohio’s Interim Director Kim Eckhart convened a group to testify alongside her before the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education to advocate for an amendment that creates a pathway to higher education for youth with experience in foster care. This amendment would ensure full state funded scholarships for all Ohio youth emancipating from foster care – a critical step towards improved intergenerational economic mobility.

Eckhart highlighted how HB 33, Ohio’s as introduced state budget, does much to invest in youth as they prepare to transition to adulthood and pursue post-secondary options, including the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, with a proposal to increase both the award amount and the number of students who are eligible in addition to the Merit Scholarship program offers awards for the top 5% of students to encourage them to attend college in Ohio. We applaud these investments in Ohio’s youth.

“Sadly, Ohio trails the nation in outcomes for teens who were in foster care – according to national data, Ohio youth were less likely to graduate high school or get a GED, obtain employment, be enrolled in school, and more likely to be justice-system involved than their peers across the nation,” stated Eckhart. “Ohio is in the bottom 10% of states across each of these measures. Scholarships for youth with experience in care can address these negative trajectories by giving students hope and footing for a fulfilling future. Research shows that students who know they can pay for college are more likely to aspire to attend. Aspiring to attend college also motivates students to stay in school and keep their grades up.”

During this budget, Ohio has an opportunity to join over 35 other states who offer scholarships to students with experience in foster care.

“The state of Connecticut has been offering scholarships since at least 1968,” said Eckhart drawing on her own personal experience. “I know that because my mom emancipated from foster care in Connecticut and the state paid for her to attend Marietta College here in Ohio. I also attended Marietta College because they offered me a scholarship as the daughter of an alum. My own story makes clear this type of investment can have lasting impacts on future generations.”

The group’s powerful testimony can be viewed in a recording here (1:37-2:01).

Download Kim’s full testimony.