DHHS voucher helps foster youth through college - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

DHHS voucher helps foster youth through college

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Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News 

Wini Atem wants to work in criminal justice.

Fatuma Hassan is going to help refugees.

Michayla Stawniak is going to be a physicisan’s assistant.

Khalil Jordan doesn't yet know what he wants to do, but he knows anything is possible for him, and his peers.

Because of the Education Training Voucher (ETV), a DHHS program that helps foster kids through college.

"A lot of these kids grow up without the support that other kids do, having parents to push them to go to college,” Stawniak, a program participant and sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Omaha said.

ETV not only pushes kids to go to college, but helps them succeed.

It has helped more than 200 youth complete degrees, something many foster kids don't ever imagine they'll do.

"Growing up in the foster care system you don't really think that you'll have someone to help you out financially, or throw scholarships with you,” Atem, junior at UNO said. “I'd never be a junior, without this specific program.”

The program provides the students with more than $2,000 each year.

But there’s more to it than money.

Education Specialists with DHHS support program participants throughout their entire college career.

"When I’m not feeling like doing anything or not feeling that great about school, she’s there to cheer me up but also to nag me to get good grades,” Jordan, a freshman at UNO said.

That unconditional support is unfamiliar to some foster care youth.

"When I was in foster care it kind of felt like everyone came and left,” Hassan, a sophomore program participant said. “Caseworkers came and left, foster parents were there but not really there, but with ETV it's been very stable."

Ann Lenz, education specialist with the voucher program said it’s that support that keeps the students successful, despite the hardships they’ve endured.

"The courage it takes to get through high school, then try to figure out college for any kid is hard, but these students have so many other concerns, it takes so much courage,” Lenz said.

You’re eligible for the voucher if:

  • You are a state or tribal ward who is 17 or older.
  • You were a state or tribal ward, but were adopted at 16 or older and you still younger than 21.
  • You were a state or tribal ward on your 17th birthday and are now between the ages of 17 and 21
  • Click this link to learn more and apply: http://www.central-plains.org/etv.html?
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