Foster Care to College

This month on the blog, we’ve been talking about education as it relates to foster care and adoption. (It seemed only appropriate during the time of year when children are getting back to school.) But as August comes to a close next week, we’ll finish off this segment with some former foster youth who made it to college, courtesy of the media outlet Texas Politica.


We love their unique insight on transitioning to college, tuition waivers and the value of higher education—and we hope you will too.



photo by: Callie Richmond

“I’ve pushed myself more and more every day, making sure I have the education I need, because I know that without education I have nothing. I don’t have family I can reach out to. This is it for me. If I don’t succeed educationally, I have nothing.”  — Kasandra Robertson



 photo by: Callie Richmond

“The institutionalization of foster care is so detrimental to a young person’s mind. It’s like a prison. Education is key. It is key for understanding yourself, for improving your future, for rising out of the socioeconomic status of poverty. And as we know, poverty is the key to recidivism, the key to drugs, to pain and hatred and not understanding. I chose to rise above it.”  — Corey Vollette



 photo by: Callie Richmond

“I struggled my first semester, and my grades reflected that. However, the endless support from the previous foster parents did ease my anxiety and made things a lot easier once I got a hold of the whole ‘college thing.’ … I’ve always lived my life by this motto: It’s better to live to a life of ‘oh wells’ than a life of ‘what ifs.’ Go to college, even if it’s for a semester. Try it out, learn some new things and meet some new people. Obtaining a degree is monumental and a huge confidence and morale booster.” — Elijah Sullivan





Empowered to Speak Up and Be Heard

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.


The South Carolina Heart Gallery was founded in 2005 to leverage the power of photography to help find permanent homes for children in foster care. It has successfully done this through an online gallery combined with photo exhibitions across the state that show the beautiful faces of our waiting children. In 2013 alone, 73 new families initiated the adoption application process through the SC Heart Gallery.


But if a picture is worth a thousand words, what about video?


Over the next year, the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation is rolling out video profiles of individual children, allowing them to share their story, hopes and dreams for themselves. All these videos are available to view on our Vimeo channel—allowing potential adoptive families to digitally “meet” these children and explore a deeper connection with them than that provided by still photography.   


All the children in these videos are legally available for adoption; most have spent years waiting in foster care. These are children who, for the most part, have little input into their situation. Their social workers speak on their behalf. Others decide where they live and what is in their best interest. Their fate is rarely in their own hands.


The videos being produced by the S.C. Heart Gallery Foundation aim to change that. It’s not about “advertising” children. It’s about providing them with a platform to tell their own story, to make their own plea for their future families. It’s about empowering them to take their future into their own hands with the opportunity to speak up and be heard—through video.


If you would like to make a donation to support the production of these individual child videos, please click on the blue “DONATE” button at the top of our website. Each video costs approximately $250 to produce and distribute. Thank you for your support.


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.


Education: Adoption vs. Foster Care

It’s that time of year again: new backpacks, notepads, pens and pencils. As kids around the country prepare to say good-bye to summer vacation and get back to school, we thought there no better time to talk about just that: getting an education.


In a 2006 paper titled “The Value of Adoption”, Mary Hansen of American University explains that the human services cost of adoption is about half the cost of long-term foster care for children whose birth parents’ rights have been terminated. Specifically in relation to education, she notes the following statistics about children who are adopted from foster care, compared to those who remain in foster care:


- Their educational progress improves by 50%
- They are 21% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school.
- They are 23% more likely to complete a GED or high school education.
- They are referred to special education half as often.


When it comes to college, there are all kinds of programs in place to help adopted children pay for their education. The idea is that parents who adopt older children from foster care odo not have as many years to save for the child’s college education—which makes sense.


For example, youth who are adopted from the foster care system at age 16 or older may be able to access Education and Training Voucher (ETV) assistance, which provides up to $5,000 per year for youth who are in college or at an accredited vocational or technical training program. Visit the Foster Care to Success website for more information.


Likewise, children who were adopted from foster care at age 13 or older are considered on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be an independent student, which means they don’t have to count family income and are more likely to qualify for financial aid. Check out this Voice for Adoption fact sheet for more information.


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.