They say it takes a village to raise a child. For Resource and kinship families, that village can look unique to each child and youth’s particular needs and interests. The Alameda County Foster Parent Association’s (ACFPA) scholarship program provides scholarships to ACFPA members with the goal of connecting foster and adoptive children and youth to community programs. These programs help them to succeed in school, prepare for higher education and work, and explore extracurricular activities like music, dance, sports, and camps.
ACFPA scholarships are available to kids and young adults through 22 years of age. In 2021, despite the COVID epidemic, the fund awarded more than $5,000 to 21 foster and adopted kids ages 1-17 years old. So far in 2022, the Scholarship Committee has awarded almost $6,700 to 22 kids ages 1-19. These awards have supplemented the cost of swim, music and dance lessons, martial arts, zoo memberships, camps and even college supplies.
Enrichment scholarships can fund afterschool and school break extracurricular activities. Research has shown that participation in extracurricular activities can improve children’s math, reading, movement skills, and social and emotional skills. Participating in extracurriculars has been linked with a decreased risk of being bullied among children with disabilities.
The ACFPA academic support scholarships can help children and youth with their school skills. Children and youth in foster care have historically shown lower scores in math and reading skills and had a higher dropout rate. Factors such as experiencing trauma and changing placements and schools are linked to lower academic skills. These scholarships can fund tutoring, study aides and test prep classes to help children and youth catch up to their classmates.
Jennifer, an ACFPA member and Resource parent, has used Enrichment Scholarships to support her adoptive son’s love for ballet and hip-hop dance lessons. She writes, “He absolutely loves dance and has a true passion for it. This was his 3rd year dancing, and he still loves it.” Afterschool activities like dance can help children to build coordination, strength, and self-esteem.
Last summer, our family received a scholarship to send our 1-year-old foster son to swim lessons at the San Leandro Family Aquatic Center. As a child born during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was his first group activity. It gave him a positive early experience with swimming and allowed him to play and interact with other toddlers in a safe outdoor space. I befriended some fellow parents during the class and we did playdates outside of swim lessons. Our foster son loved going to the playground with his new friends. Thanks to the lessons, he now loves swimming and looks forward to every chance to jump in the water!
The ACFPA scholarship program can help families access important resources in the community to help their children and young adults in their care to explore their interests, achieve academically, and prepare for adult life.
Scholarship committee members can also help families to locate and apply for programs to help their children and youth thrive. Not sure where to begin? Contact us here: email@example.com.
Article by: Lesley Paige. Lesley is an Alameda County Resource Parent and member of the ACFPA Scholarship Chair