Dropping Out and Stopping Out: Exploring the Barriers to Educational Success Among Former Foster Youth
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In 2011, Texas State University (TXST) began FACES: Foster Care Alumni Creating Educational Success. FACES is a campus-wide support initiative aimed at increasing college retention and graduation rates of foster care alumni. Initial research has shown that FACES outcomes far out-perform national averages with retention and graduation rates of close to 56%, matching the typical college student at Texas State, as well as the national college average (Watt, Norton & Jones, 2013). Though this is a tremendous success, attention still needs to be paid to the students who enroll at Texas State University, but do not finish. Research is needed to understand what risk factors contribute to students’ drop-out behavior so that FACES can make programmatic changes to better support these struggling students. This pilot, case study research project with former FACES/TXST students, includes data from semi-structured phone interviews exploring what barriers these students faced, what they are currently doing and what, if any, future plans they still have to pursue an education. Students who were identified for participation in the study were also given resources to address current risk factors, so that the study had a direct benefit to their lives and was not for the sole purpose of collecting data.