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‘Johnson C. Smith University Embraces Foster Care’

Johnson C. Smith University Embraces Foster Care
B. Denise Hawkins
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

For many youth who emancipate or age out of the foster care system when they turn 18, homelessness and incarceration, not higher education, are often the alternatives, say child welfare experts.

Dr. Ronald Carter

But since Dr. Ronald Carter became president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., in 2008, he has made foster care a part of the institution’s strategic plan. He is ensuring that those transitioning out of the foster care system can earn a degree and find emotional and financial support. Fewer than 3 percent of foster youth go on to earn college degrees by age 25, compared with 28 percent nationally, according to findings from the National Youth in Transition Database published in 2010 by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

Carter also is making sure that year-round housing is available, a crucial need for youth no longer in the foster care system. “We see students who don’t always have a home to return to during holidays, summer break or even weekends.”

On Oct. 12, the university broke ground on what will be the site of the Foster Village Network Center, which will be the hub for housing and other programs and services for emancipated foster care youth. The George E. Davis House, a historic African-American landmark built in 1895 and located a block away from the main campus, will be the focal point of the new center.

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