Education is a critical part of every child and youth’s successful transition to adulthood and the Department recognizes that finishing high school is a top priority. Ensuring students have minimal school changes, can support their educational stability. Federal legislation, such as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), assists by requiring that a Best Interest Determination meeting be held prior to moving a youth in foster care from their school of origin into a new school. Every DCS Region and schools/districts have an identified ESSA point of contact. Reach out to [email protected] for general questions regarding the ESSA, secondary and post-secondary education.
Financial Aid, Scholarships & Campus Supports
There are many opportunities and resources available to support youth pursuing their post-secondary education through enrollment in a college, university, or a vocational training program, which includes financial aid, general and school-based scholarships, and on-campus support programs. This includes supports and funding made available specifically for eligible youth currently or formerly experiencing foster care in Arizona.
It is important to ensure youth applying for financial aid understand and have available any documentation or other information needed to apply. This may include vital or other records such as an original birth certificate, Social Security card, state identification card, high school transcripts or diploma, or documentation that verifies the dates a youth was in foster care.
The DCS Education Specialists can assist students in understanding requirements and obtaining necessary documents, whether it is for the federal financial aid program, a community-based or private resource, or another program. The Scholarship Guide and Foster Youth Education Guide are resources that may be accessed independently or with the assistance of an Education Specialist.
- Arizona State University (ASU) – Bridging Success
- Maricopa Community Colleges – Bridging Success
- University of Arizona (U of A) - Fostering Success
Financial Aid & Scholarships
- Arizona Friends of Foster Care Foundation (AFFCF) Scholarship Program - https://www.affcf.org/scholarships/
- Arizona Tuition Waiver
- Bridging Success+ (ASU)
- Education and Training Voucher (ETV):
- The ETV provides funding for eligible post-secondary education and training programs, such as college / university, and other vocational based institutions. Eligible students may receive up to $5,000 per year, based on need to cover tuition costs, books, laptop, and living expenses while attending school. Eligible students include ANY YOUTH who have been in out-of-home care and the subject of a dependency petition, adjudicated dependent, or in voluntary foster care at age 16 or older in any State or Tribal foster care system, despite the outcome of their DCS case. Must be a U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen to receive funding. If youth is in good standing and progressing towards earning a credential, they can remain eligible for continued funding until their 26th birthday, or a total of 5 years.
- Questions? Contact [email protected]
- Apply Here at https://fosteredservices.org/arizona-etv/
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
- Fostering Futures (GCU) - https://forms.gcu.edu/fostering-futures-scholarship
- Scholarship Guide
High School to College
All youth in foster care are supported to not only complete their high school education, but to explore vocational/career interests and to “plan forward.” While most youth will a traditional public high school, some youth may have needs that are better met through an online program, or through a General Education Diploma (GED) program. The GED can be earned by those 16 and older with classes offered in person and online through a variety of education, training and employment programs.
When considering a GED program, it is important to ensure this path complements the youth’s future plans. Some post-secondary programs and branches of the military require completion of a high school diploma and will not accept the GED. A student can still pursue obtaining a high school diploma when they have a GED, but this is often not ideal for the youth. It is also important to understand that the time and preparation necessary to complete a GED may take as long as it would to complete a high school program.
For youth who are planning to attend a college or university, there are many things to consider, including the various options available to complete high school. It is also important to understand how college differs from high school, with regard to personal freedom and responsibilities, how classes are organized and held, academic and instructor expectations and other areas.
Please consult our Foster Youth Education Guide for more information on education options and planning.
Support and Assistance
DCS Educational Specialists focus on improving education outcomes of children who are in foster care in Arizona. Education Specialists can provide educational assistance to current and former foster youth for a variety of situations, including, but not limited to:
- Support in exploring high school or GED programs
- Support in exploring and/or enrolling in college or vocational programs
- Support in determining eligibility for foster youth specific college funding programs
- Conducting student experience assessments
- Financial Literacy Training
- Youth Thrive Training
- Monitoring and managing the Education Point of Contact general delivery mailbox
- Responding to foster care verification requests for various education support programs
- To request educational support from an Education Specialist, contact: [email protected]
The DCS Regional ESSA Points of Contact can assist DCS Specialists and Supervisors to coordinate the Best Interest Determination meeting and development of the Transportation Plan.
Please consult our Foster Youth Education Guide for information on education planning, services and supports for youth age 14 and older.
Skilled professionals are in demand in many industries including construction, health care, professional and technical services, information technology, finance and insurance, manufacturing and other areas. When considering different career paths, youth may wish to explore vocational education and training in one or more of these areas.
There are many opportunities to pursue vocational training at both the secondary/high school and post-secondary level. Youth may wish to explore a Career and Technical Education (CTED)/hybrid high school level learning environment, which is available through a number of Arizona’s public high schools. The Arizona CTED website provides a listing of available school sites.
Vocational training at the post-secondary level is available through Arizona’s CTED programs, local community colleges, and private vocational institutions. It’s important to take the time to explore interests and options for training to determine the best “fit” when it comes to the type of school to attend, including the cost, location, flexibility (start dates and schedules), opportunities for housing and other supports.