Celebration of the PrepNOW! Community
Members of the PrepNOW! community - foster parents, success mentors, NYC Child-Placing Agencies, foundations, NYC Administration for Children’s Services and other stakeholders - convened at Fedcap headquarters on December 15th to honor a remarkable group of foster parents who have completed the PrepNOW! curriculum.
PrepNOW! is Fedcap's national, one of a kind system-change initiative that supports foster parents in creating college-going cultures in their homes. It is the nation's only professional development curriculum that is designed specifically for foster parents, aimed at increasing their motivation and capacity to help youth in foster care apply to, attend and graduate from college.
The Celebration of the PrepNOW! community opened with remarks by Fedcap CEO and President Christine McMahon, who graciously thanked ACS, the Conrad Hilton and Pinkerton Foundations, NYC’s 24 Child-Placing Agencies, Fedcap Success Mentors and the foster parents. “We want to design a system for foster care that presumes greatness, and PrepNOW! is part of the answer,” she said.
Julie Farber, Deputy Commissioner Family Permanency Services ACS, noted that ACS has been involved with the PrepNOW! curriculum since its inception. She said that improving the mental health and employment outcomes for young people in foster care has been a key mission for ACS, and that the agency remains deeply engaged in recruiting and supporting foster parents.
Stephanie Boyd Seraphin, Fedcap Director of Child Welfare National Platform, thanked the New York City Child-Placing Agencies and introduced Andrea Moore, Teen Foster Parent Recruiter for Children’s Aid Society. Ms. Moore said she was inspired by PrepNOW! and working with cohorts of foster parents who are enthusiastically learning how to empower children to attend college. “The foster parents are our champions and leaders,” Ms. Miller said.
Joe Ross, PrepNOW! Program Coordinator, praised the remarkable corps of ReServists who as success mentors deliver the PrepNOW! curriculum to foster parents. The mentors come from diverse professional backgrounds but share a passion and commitment to helping foster parents improve educational outcomes for youth in care.
Success mentor Zarnell Arnold’s impassioned remarks summarized what PrepNOW! has meant to the foster parents, some of whom did not have the benefit of growing up in a college-going culture. One of the most important messages imparted by success mentors is that the past does not have to dictate the future, for the foster parents or the children in their care. Inspired by PrepNOW! a number of the foster parents have earned a GED or started to attend college classes – a remarkable achievement, both for themselves and as an example to the youth in their care. Mr. Arnold reminded the parents that the success mentors are there for them even after their children age out of care, to help them instill a college-going culture for the next generation.
Foster parent Robert Barnes said that children in foster care deserve to hear the same message as children living with their biological parents – that they are equally able to succeed in college, and that their caregivers will do everything in their power to provide them with opportunities for a better future. PrepNOW! and the manner in which it is delivered by success mentors is inspiring and inclusive, and has changed the lives of foster parents and the youth in their care.
Cindy Romerick, a foster parent, summed up a sentiment expressed by all the foster parents. “I feel like the luckiest parent in the world. With PrepNOW! all our children have an opportunity to be the most productive individuals that they can be.”