Texas A&M System and DFPS Announce Extended Foster Care Pilot Program

Published: June 21, 2018

Texas A&M System and DFPS Announce Extended Foster Care Pilot Program

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Texas A&M University System and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on Thursday announced a new pilot program focused on supporting and improving higher education success for young adults in extended foster care. This is the first such partnership between DFPS and a university system.

Through this unique pilot program, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University-Kingsville will administer Supervised Independent Living (SIL) services for eligible students who were previously in foster care and have opted to remain in or return to extended foster care. SIL is a voluntary extended foster care program that provides financial and other supports to young adults up to age 21 as they transition to independent living. The SIL program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will be called Island Harbor.

“It is with great pride that The Texas A&M University System is taking the lead in helping these deserving students as they work toward a brighter future,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “We thank DFPS for working with us on this important initiative, and we look forward to eventually implementing it throughout the System.”

Since it was established in 2013, SIL has enabled participants to receive services while attending college. However, this is the first time that a public university system has coordinated directly with DFPS and enabled universities to handle the administration of the program for their students. Individuals who were formerly in foster care are already eligible for tuition and fee waivers at public universities in Texas, but SIL provides additional support that helps reduce the financial burdens and confusion associated with living independently for the first time.

“Finding ways to remove barriers to our students’ success is so important, and this pilot program allows us to provide an excellent education in a very supportive environment,” said A&M-Corpus Christi President Kelly Quintanilla. “It allows us to provide a home for these students while also covering the cost of housing, meals and other living expenses that might otherwise keep them from pursuing a degree. We are excited to be a part of it and of their future.”

Studies show 80 percent of children in foster care say they want to go to college, but only 2 to 3 percent actually attain a bachelor’s degree. In Texas, that percentage of degree-earners is even lower.

“More than anything, today is about making real the hopes and dreams of our young people who have been in foster care” said Henry L. “Hank” Whitman, DFPS Commissioner, who is also an Islander alumnus. “Through this innovative program, the Texas A&M System is helping pave the way so that these very special students can begin to realize their potential.”

Aspen Stinson, is a junior history major at the Island University who spent time in foster care. Stinson is also earning a teaching certification and minoring in social work.

“It’s hard to focus on class when you’re worrying where your next meal is coming from or where you’re going to sleep,” said Stinson. “And sometimes that place to sleep is your car. I’m proud to be breaking the cycle and to fulfill the dreams of my biological mother, who never had this opportunity.”

The new SIL program will officially become available for extended foster students on the A&M-Corpus Christi and A&M-Kingsville campuses starting in fall 2018.