New Program Assists Texas A&M Students Who Were Formerly In Foster Care System
Texas A&M University students who have aged out of the Texas foster care system may now receive additional financial assistance for housing and meal plans, mobile phone fees and other college expenses as part of the Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program.
SIL is a type of voluntary extended foster care placement in which young adults over the age of 18 can live on their own while still receiving casework and support services to help them become independent and self-sufficient and pursue a college degree.
Most young adults who were formerly in foster care are eligible for a tuition waiver. However, the SIL program provides a monthly stipend that covers on-campus housing and dining, as well as personal costs such as phone bills, hygiene products and other expenses. To meet eligibility requirements, individuals must voluntarily opt back into the Texas foster care system, be enrolled as full-time students, live on campus year-round, and meet weekly with the Foster Care Liaison in Student Assistance Services (part of the Offices of the Dean of Student Life), which manages the program at Texas A&M.
Mikayla Slaydon, a sophomore educational psychology major from San Augustine, Texas, will be one of the first students to take part in SIL at Texas A&M.
“When I think of where my life was before I went into the foster care system, the system saved me and gave me so many amazing opportunities… my time here at Texas A&M has been so great,” Slaydon said.
Slaydon is part of the Former Foster and Adopted Aggies (FFAA) program. In addition to being a student, she is also a Fish Camp counselor and serves as a counselor for Aggie Fish Club on the Committee of Internal Affairs.
Federal legislation established a supervised independent living component of Extended Foster Care, and in 2009 the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) began work on its implementation plan. The first SIL placements began in 2013.
Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and Kingsville were the first schools in the Texas A&M University System to institute the program, which is now in place at six of the 11 system schools. The flagship campus in College Station is the most recent university in the state to implement the SIL program.
“SIL will create an opportunity that combines financial support, the human connection, and accountability to help students not only enter higher education but also to obtain a degree,” said Melanie McKoin, case manager for Student Assistance Services. “Our office will serve as a coordination point, working one-to-one with the students and DFPS to ensure we are not only meeting the logistical requirements of SIL but ensuring students are receiving support services that will help them along their college journey.”
Media Contact: Sondra White, Director of Marketing and Communications, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs, 979-458-3296, firstname.lastname@example.org