On November 4, 2014, EBCLO hosted the first all county conference about higher education for foster youth and debuted the Map to Higher Education. At EBCLO, we are always looking for new ways to serve our clients, and this year, higher education for our non-minor dependents became one of our focuses. In January, EBCLO received a grant from the Stuart Foundation to improve our AB12 advocacy for higher education needs.  Liz Aleman, our AB12 attorney, hit the ground running by researching everything a foster youth would need to know to navigate the confusing road to and through college. She eventually wrote the content and developed the concept for what is now called, “The Map to Higher Education.” A map it truly is—folded like an accordion, just like a traditional paper map.  In bright colors and clear language, the map contains comprehensive information on matriculation, financial aid, on campus support, and off campus support, all in one place!  It also has a timeline, contact information for the local colleges’ financial aid and EOP/EOPS offices, and a work space for the youth to make a record of who in their life is on their college support team.  Check out the PDF on our website, and email Liz to inquire about receiving a copy or copies for yourself or your organization.  Liz.aleman@ebclo.org.

In Liz’s process of understanding higher education in the world of child welfare, she decided Alameda County needed to have a convening to strengthen the network of professionals who share the same goal—helping foster and probation youth get to and through college.  Liz put together a committee of local stakeholders who together planned a first-of-its-kind conference on November 4th.  It was called, “Fostering Pathways to College: The Roadmap to and through Higher Education for Alameda County’s Foster Youth,” and took place at the California Endowment building in Downtown Oakland.  Over 150 local advocates, college personnel, and service providers gathered to learn more about the unique road foster youth travel before and during college.  The conference was well planned and well executed, providing training to child welfare workers and college personnel on intricate and important topics. Liz debuted the Map to Higher Education, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.  We have no doubt that it will become a best practice tool in our county and contribute to more foster youth attaining a higher education.  EBCLO couldn’t be more proudLiz presents Map of Liz, for her accomplishment of creating the Map, and planning a fabulous conference, all while maintaining a caseload of non-minor dependent clients!

EBCLO is grateful for the other sponsors of the conference, California College Pathways, The John Burton Foundation, and Beyond Emancipation. It wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of those from Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance, Beyond Emancipation, Alameda County Office of Education, California College Pathways, and Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services.