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Program Helps Foster Children Earn College Degrees

Former foster child Sokhom Mao, who graduated from San Francisco State University, talks with case manager Carla Velarde. Inset: social worker Sonja Lenz-Rashid co-founded program to help foster kids get college degrees.

Cheers to the San Francisco Chronicle for this article on Guardian Scholars, a San Francisco State University program that helps former foster children get college degrees. The program was co-founded in 2005 by social worker Sonja Lenz-Rashid, associate professor of social work at the university.

Studies indicate foster children are more likely to become incarcerated, unemployed, or single parents. Few graduate from college, partly because they do not have parental support. Guardian Scholars addresses this problem by acting as a surrogate parent.

“We check their grades. We check in with them when they seem down,” Lenz-Rashid said. “We provide that emotional support that everyone needs when they go to college, and we provide the tangible support – sheets for their bed, pots and pans for their apartment.”

May is National Foster Care Month. To learn more click here. And to find out more about how social workers such as Lenz-Rashid help foster children, click here to visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Adoptions and Foster Care Web page.

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