Many youth in care face disruptions in their education because of turmoil in the homes of their birth families or due to placement changes while in out-of-home care. Particular attention should be paid to determining whether a youth in your care needs special assistance to do his or her best work in school. This may involve meeting with your youth’s Child Welfare worker, the school counselors, and teachers to develop a plan of action. Tutors are available to help students who are not performing up to their capability.
One of the keys to a successful adult life is a good educational background. Studies have shown that family stability, job success, and earning power are directly related to the level of education achieved in one’s life. DHS recognizes the importance of working with and supporting custody youth in pursuing education. The following educational programs are available to custody youth:
The DHS Independent Living program recognizes the need to assist our custody youth improve their high school graduation rate and readiness for post-secondary education. A new position has been created to assist in locating
and funding tutoring for youth who need assistance improving their academic level. In order to be considered as a participant, the student must be in DHS custody placed outside of the home. Paid tutors will only be available for youth, 16 years of age and up to age 21, as funding for this initiative comes from federal IL funds. For additional information please contact your youth’s Child Welfare worker or call 405-521-3778.
Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP)
The Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program is a unique program set up by the Oklahoma Legislature for eighth, ninth, and 10th grade students that will help pay for tuition at an Oklahoma public two-year college or four-year university. Once enrolled in the program, youth are eligible for benefits regardless of whether or not they remain in DHS custody as long as they maintain the behavioral, scholastic and other requirements established by the OHLAP. In November 2003 DHS began a drive to enroll all eligible custody youth in the OHLAP. If at any time you have an eligible youth placed in your home who needs to enroll in the OHLAP, please contact 405-521-3778. You may learn more about the OHLAP at www.okpromise.org.
College and Vo-Tech Tuition Waivers
State law provides tuition waivers for post-secondary vocational/technical programs and undergraduate resident tuition at institutions within the Oklahoma state system of higher education for youth who were in out-of-home placements and in DHS or tribal custody for nine months between the ages of 16 and 18. Eligible youth have three years after obtaining their high school education or GED to begin accessing the waiver. Waivers are valid until youth reach age 26 or complete a baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first.
Oklahoma Education and Training Voucher Program
The Education and Training Voucher Program is a newly authorized program under the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The Education and Training Voucher Program makes available additional funding for post- secondary training and education for eligible youth. Youth eligible for services under the DHS ETV Program are:
- Youth eligible for services under the Oklahoma Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
- Youth who were likely to remain in out-of-home care but obtained permanency through a legal guardianship after age 16.
- Youth adopted from out-of-home care after reaching age 16.
- Youth participating in the ETV program on the 21st birthday, who are enrolled in a post-secondary education or training program and are making satisfactory progress towards completion of that program, can continue to be eligible for the ETV program until age 23.
The funding can be used at any institution of higher education as defined by the Higher Education Act. The ETV funds can be used for tuition, books, fees, rental or purchase of equipment, materials and supplies, room and board, personal and healthcare expenses, transportation, child care for dependents, and tutoring. The cost of these items cannot exceed the total cost of attendance at the institution or $5,000, whichever is less.
Resource parents may obtain more information about these programs by contacting their assigned Child Welfare worker or by calling 405-521-3778.
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