EARLY YEARS: Great Expectations now at Virginia Western Community College helping current and former foster youth get degrees

Program also provides mental health support, social engagement activities, and other assistance to keep students engaged and learning
From academic assistance, to social opportunities, the program helps current and former foster youth attain a college education
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 5:49 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - There are nearly 5,400 children in Virginia’s foster care system.

“Virginia is one of the worst in aging out. So, turning 18, having nowhere to go as children leaving the system. So, that’s really what sparks the program is to address that need, because they turn 18 and 20% end up homeless,” says Great Expectations success coach JW Taylor.

Taylor leads the Great Expectations Program at Virginia Western.

It’s offered at all schools in the Virginia Community College System to help current or former foster youth get a leg up on their future.

“The goal of the program is to have foster youth come in from high school, help them graduate high school and get through to a college degree or certificate of some sort. The statistics say that only around eight percent of former foster youth actually complete a secondary degree,” says Taylor.

These youth have extra challenges, like jobs and other responsibilities.

Thanks to extra support, Taylor says Great Expectations students complete college at three times the national average for foster youth.

“We work with, really, on navigating most of the coming-to-college pieces. Filling out the applications, the FAFSA,” says Taylor.

If you want more information about Great Expectations, click this link.