on foster care issues:

Wishing Our Parenting Liason a Happy Retirement!

| December 18th, 2014

Wishing Our Parenting Liason a Happy Retirement!

Laura Adkins

She walks into the office wearing her infectious smile; her cheery laugh greets your ears long before you see her.

She waves good morning as she heads for her desk, and as you wave back, suddenly, you’re happy because you know at some point in the day you’ll have a good laugh.

Laura Adkins is witty and fun; she’s lighthearted and is always sure to leave you hunched over in laughter. She brings a matchless atmosphere to Foster Care to Success (FC2S)—not just because of her personality, but because of her passion.

Laura is always there to answer questions and offer advice and guidance. She’s always ready and willing to give the best of herself to students and staff alike, because of her compassion and commitment to service.

Listening to her intently asking parenting students a question, walking them through creating a budget or taking down their address so she can send them books to read to their children, it is clear that Laura was created for the role of guiding parenting students down a pathway to success. The excitement in her voice when she talks about the successes of her parenting students and those “proud mama” moments when she shares their photos just proves it.

Now, after more than 10 years of playing such a significant role in not only the academic success but overall life success of parenting students, it’s time for Laura to take the advice she’s offered to countless others: elevate. It is with both gratitude and sadness that we say goodbye to our parenting liaison, Laura, as she takes the next step of her life into retirement.

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We asked Laura to share some of her greatest moments and challenges from working with parenting students over the years, as well as give us a sneak peek into what retirement will look like for her!

You’ve helped FC2S continue growing for the past 10+ years. What have been some of your most memorable moments?

What I’ll remember most are the problems FC2S has solved; all the seeds of hope we’ve planted, and all the seeds that came to fruition. And I’ll always remember the light we brought to dire situations. Every time we’re able to go beyond our mandated work and stop a student from making a terrible mistake, stays with me. And then, the times when we weren’t able to help, wake me up in the middle of the night.

The important issue for me – and I am aware of it every day – is that this job was, and is a privilege; we get to extend the kind of olive branch the student needs or wants.

The coordinators at FC2S should be in the news every day, with a camera and microphone rolling down the aisle, listening to the words, the stories, the resolutions and plans that happen in our cubicles. I don’t know if there’s anything more important in life than to make things better than they were before you got there.

laura 3 What have been some of your greatest challenges working with parenting students?

The real challenge is trying to teach students specifically what they have missed during the first 18 years of their life; and how to design it into an engaging, personal conversation, sometimes at a 6th grade level, that encompasses the big picture about financial information, the energy required to raise healthy children, and tie it to their educational plan.

What will you miss most about the work you currently do?

I’ll miss talking with students, but I’ll especially miss hearing that “aha!” moment – often a moment of silence -when they see the bigger picture of what’s truly possible in their lives with the right amount of money, a good plan, and a personal guide who’ll be at the end of the line when they want one. THAT is priceless.

If you could leave your students with finals words of wisdom, what would they be?

You are not your past. The past has happened and now the days belong to you. You are still writing on the slate of who you are. One of the most powerful things you can do is make a happy memory every day, especially if you have children. Make happy memories for them and dedicate yourself to it. At the end of one year you will have SO many happy memories.

One paradox in life is that you can fill yourself up by helping someone else. The more you give, the more you are filled up. Believe it or not, there are people waiting for you to show up in their lives.

What’s one of the first things you plan to do on your first day of retirement?

Sleep as long as I can in the morning. But, there’s a cheerleader who lives in my head, with red and white pompoms, who is so psyched to be alive, so I usually have to get up.

I’ll meditate, drink espresso and be grateful for all the goodness in my life.

I’ll jump up and down in the kitchen while listening to ONE REPUBLIC sing, “Counting Stars” really loud, making the cats hide.

Then, I’ll end the day with an old song, “Louie, Louie.”

“Louie, Louie, me gotta go.” (now go YouTube that.)


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CRS Recent Report Profiles Current and Former Foster Youth

| December 8th, 2014

youthThe Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued an October 2014 report with data from National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) FY 2011-13. The Child Welfare: Profiles of Current and Former Older Youth Based on the National Youth in Transition report provides a summary and detailed data about independent living services, education, work, health and other outcomes of current and former foster youth.

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Survival Guide to Finals Week

| December 5th, 2014

Survival Guide to Finals Week

No matter your major, class load, or level of comfort within your class – come test day, there’s always some degree of stress. Here are some tips on how to manage that stress by better preparing yourself for test day and FINALS WEEK.

Day 1 of 5: Time Management

Time Management

Finals Week is a challenging time during college; every day you have to know a semester’s worth of material. It’s certainly no easy feat, but here’s a survival guide to endure the last lap before winter break. You can do it! #survivefinals

Day 1 of 5: Time Management

Day 2 of 5: Assess the Test

Assess Test

Assess your finals like you’re going to dinner. Is it with friends, family or a date? Is the exam multiple choice, essay or a combination? The type of dinner helps you plan your outfit, just like the type of test helps you know what content to study.

Day 2 of 5: Assess the Test

Day 3 of 5: The Art of Studying


There are many ways to study, but you have to find what works best for you. Haven’t found your method yet? Check out these tips in part 3 of the survival guide below!

Day 3 of 5: The Art of Studying

Day 4 of 5: Self-care


When you think of finals, what comes to mind? Late night study sessions, group meetings and drafting outline after outline. And, of course, stress. Beat the stress of finals with #selfcare.

Day 4 of 5: Self Care

Day 5 of 5: Finish Strong


You’re in the last stretch, so finish strong! Be sure to eat well, take a few study breaks, and most important, think positive thoughts. Good luck!

Day 5 of 5: Finish Strong

 Download the COMPLETE survival guide here.

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4 Ways to Spin Your Thanksgiving

| November 25th, 2014


Have you ever helped your foster brother with his homework? Or listened to your best friend vent about a bad breakup?

Didn’t it feel great to know you were able to help someone else, especially after your brother or friend thanked you for lending a hand in their time of need?

Now imagine that giddy feeling…TIMES TEN!

Volunteering at a mission or shelter for the homeless this holiday season will help you feel on top of the world as you give of yourself to those who have less than you. Imagine that mother’s smile as you pour her children a cup of soup, or that elderly man’s warm embrace as he thanks you for sitting with him in a nursing home.

You can visit a hospital or even serve in a shelter. No matter the good deed, volunteering on Thanksgiving will help you be a blessing to others while also reminding you of the many things you have to be thankful for.


Want to know the guarantee to an enjoyable holiday? Friends.

Turn your Thanksgiving into a “Friendsgiving” by inviting a few friends over to enjoy good food, great conversation and lifelong memories.

Friendsgiving is the perfect occasion to celebrate the gift of life with the gift of friendship.

Relax at home

After a busy day at work and back-to-back finals, there’s nothing greater than coming home to your warm, comfy bed.

The holidays are no different.

If you want to spend your day relaxing at home, follow Nike and Just Do It!

Enjoy your favorite meal, take a bubble bath or treat yourself to something you’ve wanted for a while.

It’s your well-deserved day off, and you can and should spend it however you want to.

Create Your own Tradition

The very first Thanksgiving celebration took place in 1621. And, as well all know, a lot has changed since then!

Who says Thanksgiving has to mean football, carving turkey and stuffing your face with pumpkin pie? Maybe you’d like to attend a church service, catch a movie or check out a concert with some friends?

It’s 2014 and the America we live in is much different than when the Pilgrims first arrived. Don’t be afraid to embrace the new millennium and create your own holiday traditions—even if they seem to go against the “norm.”

Celebrate this Thanksgiving in ways that are fun and meaningful to you!

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Money Matters! Lacresha White Explains Why

| November 20th, 2014

Lacresha White, Frostburg State University

Lacresha White, Frostburg State University

What happens when you put former foster youth in a room full of foster care professionals?

Education…but the “teacher” may surprise you.

On Nov. 17, 2014, the Child Welfare League of America hosted “Financial Challenges Facing Youth in Transition,” a panel discussion about how to create policies and practices to help foster youth with money management.

And while professionals from a variety of organizations swapped ideas and best practices, two unique people helped shed light on the struggles of stepping out of the foster care system, and blindly, stepping in to a world driven by finances.

FC2S student and 2014 Aim Higher Fellow, Lacresha White, and R.J. Tilley, an Our House alumnus, both shared their ups and downs when learning to manage money.

Read on to discover why Lacresha felt the need to tell her story to industry professionals, what she hopes they took away after listening and what she believes every young person should learn about money management.

1.Why did you agree to speak at this event?

I’m strongly passionate about being an advocate for foster youth and all the challenges that we face. I feel people hear the challenges but they’re not fully understanding how they can implement ways to help us in their practices.

2. Explain the value of foster care professionals hearing your experiences.
Lacresha & Richard from Our House

Richard Bienvenue of Our House talks with Lacresha White

I think people learn from others’ experiences; you have to see it firsthand. So if you’re hearing it from someone who never experienced it, you’re not going to learn very much.

It’s also about building that empathy; when you hear a story you’re right there with them and you’re feeling how they felt in that situation.

3. You’re 18 and about to exit foster care. When it comes to money management, what are the top four things you need to know?

How to:

  • Open a bank account: You receive ETV funds, scholarships, grants and/or a refund check that you’ll need to safely put away. Also, you will start a job and get a paycheck, which should be saved.
  • Build your credit: We will all need credit at some point in the future. (ex. Buying a car, renting an apartment, turning on your utilities)
  • Maintain your credit: The higher your credit score the better.
  • Budget and don’t overspend your money: We aren’t used to receiving a lump sum of money in foster care; so, it’s important that we understand how to budget and not immediately spend every dime.
4. What are some of the main things you hope professionals took away from your discussion about financial challenges facing foster youth?

I hope that they learned that it’s not just about having the supply of resources available for foster youth; it’s also about meeting them where they are and understanding all the different dynamics of what’s going on today and what we need to learn. Professionals must be able to put that into a course or workshop that actually tailors to a foster youth’s level and present state at that time.

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Challenges and Solutions from the 2013 National Convening

| August 12th, 2014



On October 22, 2013, an extraordinary group of invited individuals representing child welfare, higher education, and state, local and national organizations gathered in Los Angeles to collectively address the unique educational challenges of foster youth in postsecondary programs. Read More

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Foster U Announcement

| August 5th, 2014


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Meet Our 2014 Aim Higher Fellows!

| May 31st, 2014

Aim HigherAIM HIGHER uses video and social media to engage foster parents, social workers, mentors and employers in FC2S’ national movement to link education and training to employment and successful adulthood. Read More

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Congratulations Graduates!!!

| May 30th, 2014

ScholarshipsToday, we celebrate some of our 2013-14 graduates. Read More

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Miguel O. was honored for his expressive writing

| May 29th, 2014


Miguel is a high school senior from Brooklyn, NY and grand prize award winner of the 16th annual Awards for Youth in Foster Care.  Over 50 NYC foster youth submitted entries to this contest honoring excellence in creative writing.  Read More

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