BLOOMSBURG—Children aging-out of the foster care system are more likely to end up unemployed or worse yet, in prison, within five years according to numerous studies. A new Bloomsburg University initiative, the Anchor Program, aims to engage youth, ages 15-18, to help change those statistics.
The Anchor Program will give children in the foster care program a chance to explore their academic interests and talents through a multi-year summer residential college life experience program and year-round mentorship opportunities. The inaugural session of the program is scheduled for July 15 to 22.
“The program will develop independent living and college readiness skills through engaging activities led by university faculty, staff and students,” said Rona Anderson, assistant to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, who will coordinate the program. “It will also connect children in the foster program with current Bloomsburg University students, fellow Anchor classmates, and Bloomsburg University faculty and staff through student life activities. BU mentors will partner with the youth throughout the year about topics such as developing academic goals, exploring academic disciplines (e.g. business, science, art, music), researching post-secondary institutions, and navigating financial aid/scholarships.”
The Anchor Program will be open to youth involved in the Pennsylvania foster care system that reside in Columbia, Luzerne, Snyder, Northumberland, and Union counties. Interested youth should contact their case worker to obtain an application for the program. Anchor Program team members and county foster care workers will evaluate applications and extend invitations to accepted applicants. Forty youth will be accepted into the Anchor residential college life experience program in 2017.
Anchor students will be housed in residence halls on campus and supervised 24 hours a day by university staff, including Bloomsburg University students who will serve as residential staff, and faculty.
Through hands-on workshops and field trips led by University faculty members, students will explore a variety of academic disciplines like science, art, and English. Building leadership skills, learning healthy cooking tips, becoming certified in CPR/First Aid, and other independent living and college readiness skills will be incorporated into activities throughout the week as well. Movie nights and other recreational activities will give Anchor students the opportunity to connect with fellow classmates and current university students.
“There is no cost to the Anchor students,” Anderson says. ‘Meals, housing, activities and program materials will be provided free of charge.”
“These children already face a tough road in life just by being in the foster care system,” said James Brown, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “If we (adults) can show them that people do care about them and provide them with skills non-foster care children already have access to, we can help them chart a better course in life.”
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 9,600 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.