TrueUp 4.0 is a JCTC program for and by foster care alumni. 

Program Director – Joni Jenkins.  Located in the VTI (classroom building), suite 111, room E.  502-213-2588

For foster care alumni, TrueUP 4.0 is their advocate on campus.  We can help navigate the sometimes confusing processes as

  • Application
  • Financial aid
  • Registering for classes
  • Accessing services – tutoring, counseling, transfer
  • Career Exploration and Planning
  • Mentoring

TrueUp 4.0 provides social and volunteer opportunities.  The office provides a space for students to call their own, to check in with the Program Director, chill out for a little while, study in quiet, seek advice, encouragement  or assistance.

Trueup 4.0 reaches out to former students who have had disruptions in their college plans, to work together to get the student back on track and in school.

TrueUp 4.0 works with the state Independent Living Coordinators to insure all JCTC students on foster waiver are aware of all of the assistance they are entitled.

TrueUp 4.0 works with foster children at the middle and high school level to begin the process of planning for college.

Additional Background Info

In the state of Kentucky, on any given day, approximately 7000 Kentucky children are in state foster care (in individual private homes or state facilities).  Each year between 500 and 600 of these children age out (turn 18) and leave the state’s custody.

According to Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, 75% of the children exiting the state’s care at age 18 are not successful.  Many will become homeless.

These children can receive Medicaid until age 19 and if they are in school or re-commit to the state’s custody, they can receive Medicaid until age 21.  They are entitled to free in-state tuition, if they recommit to the state at age 18 or before they reach 18 and 6 months.

Recent changes from the 2012 session of the Kentucky General Assembly will extend the window for foster youth to petition the court to continue in state are from six months to one year following the youth’s 18th birthday.   Also, when the youth turns 17 ½ years of age, state social workers are mandated to inform the teens of their rights to extend their commitment.  The cabinet will have to provide specific options on housing, health insurance, education mentors and employment.

There are many studies that indicate that adults who achieve some type of post-secondary education, including certifications, diplomas, technical training, associates and bachelor degrees are much more likely to be employed and earn higher wages during the course of their lifetime.

Between 2008 and 2009, the unemployment rate for college graduates rose from 2.6 % to 4.6%, while the rate for high school graduates rose 5.7% to 9.7%.  Regardless of the state of the economy, the high school graduate is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the college graduate.

The wage gap between the high school graduate and the college graduate continue to increase.  In 1982, college graduates earned 50% more than high school graduates.  By 2008, wages were almost 100% more for college graduates. 

In addition to wages, college graduates are more likely to have health insurance, a pension and other employer provided benefits.

With increasing education, individuals are more interested in community services, make more responsible health choices and demonstrate better parenting skills.

Waived tuition solves just one of the barriers to post-secondary education for most foster youth.

 “Students apply to college in their senior year, but it is at least five years earlier, in the middle grades, when students really make the decision to go to college, and more importantly, when they must start taking steps to make that decision a reality. Middle school is a time of huge change – academically, developmentally and socially – and it is during these years when students, particularly underserved students, either shift their lives towards going to college or away from it. Research from Johns Hopkins University found that “during the middle grades, students in high‐poverty environments are either launched on the path to high school graduation or knocked off‐track.”( Balfanz, R. (2009) Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University  )

“Young adolescents, as learners, build upon their individual experiences and prior knowledge to make sense of the world around them.” Therefore, young students who don’t have the experience of family members going to college will need to be explicitly taught all the steps that are part of the college‐going process, because they won’t have the personal experience and prior knowledge to build on, and college‐going may not even be part of their world view. These students will need to be supported to create a vision of their future that includes going to college. (Caskey, M. M., & Anfara, V. A., Jr. (2007). Research summary: Young adolescents’ developmental characteristics. National Middle School Association)

Many of the youth in state foster care have changed schools multiple times because of multiple housing placements.  They have not had the continuity and consistency needed for college preparation.  They are less likely to have adult role models who attended college and may not have the support of immediate family in formulating college goals.

About 50% of eight graders, whose parents did not attend college, expect to go on to college, as compared to 91% of children, whose parents earned a BA, who will attend college.

While the Commonwealth of Kentucky has made great strides in providing resources for youth exiting state custody to attend post-secondary education, there are some barriers still in place to success at the post-secondary level.

Youth in Foster Care (like most youth anywhere) need:

  1. to be exposed to a “college-going” expectation at a much earlier age – middle school or early high school is preferable
  2. assistance in formulating future college and career goals
  3. information regarding class selection and how those classes are relevant to their future goals, plus clear, understandable information about preparing for college, choosing a college and applying for college
  4. an advocate on campus to help navigate the system
  5. a place to turn to for advice and support and social opportunities
  6. a forum to ask for help the opportunity to use their new knowledge and skills to mentor young foster youth
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