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Fresno City College is one of only 12 recipients and the first community college to receive a grant to help homeless foster youth from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant provides up to $400,000 a year for five years to help homeless foster youth. Fresno City College will work in partnership with Westcare, a local leader in assisting homeless and providing substance abuse counseling.
One hundred foster youth each year who are homeless or housing insecure will be recruited and referred by campus student services programs. They will receive mental health treatment, and substance abuse treatment, if needed, while they are simultaneously being supported by a FCC counselor who will identify their academic needs and assist them in persisting in an educational program.
According to Natalie Chavez, Foster and Kinship Care Coordinator, this is a completely new trauma informed approach to supporting foster youth in a community college setting.
“Using a trauma informed approach means that we understand the pervasive nature of emotional trauma foster youth students have experienced as a result of their abuse history and often unstable support systems. Working in partnership with our WestCare partner we will promote environments of healing and recovery with intensive one-to-one individualized student support,” Chavez said.
Westcare will provide the important trauma informed mental health and substance abuse treatment component of the grant. They will also provide housing navigation services to link students to affordable housing.
“This program’s treatment and supportive services will enable students to overcome barriers to success that extend far beyond the classroom. It will bridge the gap between campus and community resources to teach students the skills necessary to maximize access to fulfill critical basic needs,” Chavez added.
Chavez says the ultimate goal of the grant is for the students to become employable so they can sustain their new housing stability.