Contracts support programs for Wayne County foster youth and families

February 28, 2012

DEARBORN / February 28, 2012--- The Save Our Children Coalition, a project of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s School of Education, recently received two contracts worth nearly $50,000 total from the Wayne County Department of Human Services. Funding from the contracts will support the organization’s Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care outreach branch and UTOOLS foster youth program.

SOCC is a coalition of organizations and community volunteers who work to support the lives of children and families in foster care. Approximately 14,500 youth are in foster care in Michigan, including 4,000 youth in Wayne County.

The Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care is an outreach branch of SOCC. Its mission is to serve as a catalyst to bring congregations and agencies together in collaborative partnerships to address the current foster care crisis.

With the funding, SOCC will further develop and expand outreach to diverse agencies, congregations and families within Wayne County. The goal is to increase adoptive parent and foster parent recruitment and retention.

“There is a desperate need to recruit and retain high-quality foster and adoptive parents in Michigan, especially for teens and sibling groups,” says Katie Page Sander, director of SOCC. “Loving foster and adoptive families are essential to providing youth in foster care with opportunities to thrive.”

SOCC also received funding for UTOOLS, an experiential learning program for teenagers in foster care. In this program, members of the UM-Dearborn community lead Saturday workshops built around the framework of Sean Covey’s, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”

The goal of UTOOLS is to encourage youth to complete high school and aspire to higher education. Studies show that 70 percent of foster youth aspire to attend college, but only approximately 2 percent earn a college degree.

“UTOOLS is powerful because the UM-Dearborn faculty, staff, students and alumni involved in the program have high expectations for the youth and treat them with respect. This is especially impactful for this population because so many of their experiences with adults are negative and filled with pain and disappointment,” says Page Sander.

“The UTOOLS students begin to feel like they belong on a college campus and get comfortable here.”

This is the second consecutive year the Department of Human Services has provided funding for the program, which began in 2010, and the first year the Department has funded the Faith Communities Coalition on Foster Care.

Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 8,900 students pursuing more than 90 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education. A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.
Beth Marmarelli
313-593-5542 /