Gilbert Smith, Staff Writer
The Saint Martin’s University school website phrases what the Fostering Success Program does as, “Saint Martin’s University supports foster, homeless, and unaccompanied youth through our integrative Fostering Success program.” The website continues with, “We combine the resources needed to navigate your college career as an independent student and provide a network of contacts to help you with your journey.” Something to note is that this program is part of a scholarship program due to some support in the form of financial aid. The Fostering Success Program is not central to Saint Martin’s University. In fact, the University of Arizona has a similar program.
Until recently, Pamela J. Holsinger-Fuchs was the main overseer of the project on campus. Pamela helped students in need with issues relating to foster care, homelessness, and unaccompanied youth. Crystal Cardona, also from the Office of Campus Ministry and the College of Arts and Sciences, will now oversee the program. The Belltower interviewed Pamela J. Holsinger-Fuchs for her insight.
While she had many important things to say over Zoom, she first discussed the Washington Passport Network Program. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Passport Network Program has been assisting people from foster care in college and now homeless youth. It also includes McKinney–Vento students in it. Specifically, the Passport Program website says, “the Washington Passport Network is a statewide collective impact initiative committed to supporting students from foster care and the adult professionals they rely on.” We empower professionals supporting students from foster care and unaccompanied homeless youth with information, knowledge, and tools to improve practices and student outcomes. If you are a professional working to support students from foster care or those experiencing unaccompanied homelessness in accessing, persisting in, or completing post-secondary education or apprenticeships in Washington state, then we consider you a member of the Washington Passport Network. The program provides a scholarship of $5,000 per year for college. They also have to do this when applying for the FAFSA as independents through various programs offered by the federal government. She also worked in a similar program in the state of Wisconsin. There are 12 students in this program currently at Saint Martins.
McKinney and Vento were senators who drafted legislation to help former foster youth. This law is known today as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The program also made sure they were allowed to stay during breaks. They also get additional money for books and make them a birthday cake on their birthday.
There are two student peer mentors for the program. She helped in the program to support former foster care students and has a support network here. She previously worked in Wisconsin, where she did the same. Now that she is retired, she still meets former students from the program.