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To and Through Higher Education: Innovative Approaches to Meeting the Needs of Students in Foster Care

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With resources and support, students with experience in foster care are more likely to access and succeed in higher education. New research in Pennsylvania highlights common barriers and challenges experienced by students and campuses alike in getting young people to and through college. Longstanding problems require innovative solutions. In this webinar, Dr. Donald Miles will share findings from his dissertation “A Study of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools’ Support Systems for Emancipated Youth Who Desire to Obtain a Bachelor’s degree”. Following, you will hear from passionate professionals who are rejecting “business-as-usual” approaches and getting creative in ensuring that youth in foster care can reach their higher education goals.

What You’ll Gain

Attendees will gain knowledge in understanding common barriers to higher education success for students with foster care experience. Data on service utilization on university campuses will be shared. Participants will hear about concrete ideas and resources that can be implemented to positively impact youths’ higher education outcomes. This session has been approved for 2 Social Work Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for the event cost of $25.

Who Should Enroll?

This webinar is geared towards anyone working with high school students in or aging out of foster care. Professionals who would benefit include child welfare caseworkers, Independent Living workers, K-12 educators, LEA Foster Care Points of Contact, attorneys/GALs, CASAs, and more!

Faculty & Instructors


Dr. Donald E. Miles, Ed.D is the Associate Dean of Student Development, Saint Francis University. He has spent 16 years supporting students as they transition through college and achieve graduation. This coupled with 17 years of being a foster parent and adoptive parent of three special needs children from the foster care system allows him to see the entire process and the need for support programs for this population to succeed in college. His dissertation from Point Park University revealed some significant focus areas for future higher education access work.


Jesse J. McLean, Jr. is the Executive Director of Pennsylvania, Pressley Ridge. He is a human services professional with over 30 years of experience in Pittsburgh’s nonprofit sector. Mr. McLean serves as Executive Director of Western Pennsylvania for Pressley Ridge, where he is responsible for overseeing the fiscal, operational, and clinical integrity of programs throughout Western PA. Over the years, Mr. McLean has had many honors, including the William H. Moore Award for Excellence in Education for his development of the V.U.L.C.A.N. program to prepare middle school students for college.


Nneka Hawthorne is an Educational Liaison Supervisor with Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth & Families. She is a human services professional with twenty-five years’ experience, most of which is with Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS). Nneka has spent most of her career in roles that connect youth, families, programs, and community resources to one another. Currently, Nneka leads a team of Education Liaisons in the Office of Children, Youth and Families that serve teenagers and young adults with experience in the foster care system.

Key Topics

  • Campus Programming for Students with Foster Care Experience
  • Barriers to Higher Education Success
  • Mentoring/Coaching
  • Resources for Student Success

More Info

NOTE: THIS IS A FREE WEBINAR. Only attendees seeking CEU credit need to pay the $25 fee. Use Coupon Code FC2CFREE if you are NOT seeking a CEU certificate. You will be prompted to create a FREE PennPath account after placing this course in your cart and proceeding to checkout.

Please visit the Field Center’s Foster Care to College Resource Library to learn more: www.fostercaretocollege.org

Event Details

May 4, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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