Spark is designed to create a network of support. We work hard to make sure that students who were previously in foster care or the kinship system of care have everything they need to achieve educational success by focusing on recruitment, retention, and graduation.
The Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work is the home of Spark. Spark works in close partnership with Horns Helping Horns, and was created for two main reasons:
- To increase the educational outcomes of young people who age out of foster care, and
- To ensure that once they are a University of Texas student, they receive the support they need to graduate.
Often, new students don’t know who they can reach out to for assistance, and we want to help make UT feel smaller. Our Spark team, local advocates, and Campus Champions all receive specific training on the needs of foster care alumni so that they can provide the best possible support.
Additionally, the Spark program team are proud members and supporters of Education Reach for Texans. Education Reach for Texans is an all-volunteer run nonprofit that seeks to eliminate barriers to success and build support programs for foster care alumni attending colleges and universities in Texas. Some former foster youth qualify for a tuition and fee waiver, extended foster care or other financial support. Trying to figure out all the requirements can be confusing. Education Reach for Texans helps to connect liaisons in higher education to navigate these questions and facilitate sharing resources. Some of our favorite resources are the Texas Foster Youth Justice Project, Texas Youth Connection and College for all Texans. Even if you are a former foster youth that doesn’t qualify for financial support, every public college has a foster care liaison you can contact for questions, tours, and any other information. Some colleges even have special programs for foster alumni and independent living programs– like Spark!
If you are a student, parent, advocate looking for a way to connect with liasions on other campuses check out this List of Designated Liaisons!