Helping Foster Youth Achieve Education, Healthy Adulthoods in Arizona

It’s the time of year high school seniors and their parents are often warned about.

Fresh off winter break, many students begin to lag – missing class, not doing homework, or getting lower grades on assignments – all signs of the ever-present “senioritis.”

But for some teens, turning 18 means more than just anticipation of finishing high school and the excitement of entering college. For the 440,000 young people living in foster care across the country, it can mean the loss of stable housing, financial support and adult guidance.

After turning 18 and aging out of the foster care system, many teens find it challenging to lead safe, satisfying and productive adult lives. And while approximately half graduate high school and about 10 percent enter college, nearly half of foster youth end up homeless, incarcerated or on welfare within two years of aging out of care.

Empowering Foster Youth in Arizona

Currently, there are 17,000 foster youth living in the state of Arizona. To support these young people as they transition to college or careers, the WellCare Community Foundation donated $500,000 to First Star, Inc. to help expand its student recruitment efforts from Gila, Pinal, Mohave, Coconino, Apache, Navajo and Yavapai counties.

First Star offers four-year support programs hosted on university and college campuses across the country that provide young people with encouragement, guidance, and academic and life skills needed to successfully move on to higher education and adulthood. The program is led by professional staffers and peer mentors and offers immersive residential summers and monthly sessions during the school year.

In Arizona, First Star partners with Arizona State University (ASU) and Access ASU, which is designed to ensure all students graduate high-school ready to thrive in college and the 21st century workforce. As part of the program, foster youth work with professional staffers and peer mentors as they spend their summers living in college dormitories and participating in monthly sessions during the school year. As a result, more than 90 percent of academy graduates go on to two- or four-year colleges.

Going Beyond Healthcare

At WellCare, our job is to provide our members with access to high-quality healthcare services.

But we also follow our mission to serve and to help our members live better, healthier lives.

We can only be successful if we go beyond healthcare to fully understand our members’ individual needs and life circumstances, while connecting them to programs and services they need to lead more meaningful, satisfying and productive lives.

That’s why we’re proud to partner with First Star and ASU to help foster youth in Arizona develop the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the world after foster care and move on to obtain higher education and healthy adulthoods.

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