Seita Scholars Program
About This Program
Target Population: Youth aging out of foster care; foster and former foster youth in college 18-25 years old
For children/adolescents ages: 18 – 25
The Seita Scholars Program is a campus-based support program for undergraduate students who experienced foster care and are attending Western Michigan University. Students receive support from coaches to successfully navigate seven life domains:
- Finances and employment
- Physical and mental health care
- Social relationships and community connections
- Cultural and personal identity
- Life skills
Students have access to 24-hour on-call support and emergency financial resources. The program includes a scholarship at the university and students are required to live on campus.
The overall goals of the Seita Scholars Program are:
- Increase opportunities for foster youth to pursue higher education and to provide supports that promote success throughout their undergraduate experience at Western Michigan University (WMU) while increasing foster youth earning college degrees
- Create transitions that lead to success in college and career for WMU students from foster care ages 18-25
- Develop community of scholars among WMU students who have aged out of foster care (Create safe community to deconstruct and reconstruct identity)
- Educate WMU students from foster care and their support network to enhance professional skill set
- Transform WMU Students from foster care by integrating experiences of one’s past to build opportunities for the future
- Promote academic success toward college graduation that leads to professional employment upon graduation, while maintaining personal well-being, developing career aspirations, and building leadership capabilities
The essential components of the Seita Scholars Program include:
- Clinically trained Master’s-level Campus Coaches
- State foster care worker “Coaches” on-site at campus office
- Emergency funds for students
- Scholarship (financial aid packaging with minimal student loans)
- Career mentoring and employment readiness training
- Academic supports to fill learning gaps
- Safe housing during semester breaks
- Guidance to help students manage and be proactive with physical, mental, and dental health needs
- Organized social events with other students from foster care such as welcome events with the students from all academic years
- Peer leadership and public speaking development
- Support as students navigate biological family relationships
- Field trips to give students exposure to career and advanced educational opportunities
- Guidance to explore personal identity development in the young adult years
- Targeted life skills training
- First Year Seminar Course (i.e., University 101) taught in groups of up to 28 students
- Peer support groups of 3-7 students
Seita Scholars Program directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:
- Youth aging out of foster care and former foster youth in college
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:
This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The program aims to build and strengthen social and career support networks that students are exposed to on a college campus; students also receive help to heal relationships with biological family.
Student contact with campus coaches varies according to student need. On average, students interact with their Coaches about 3 hours per month. Interactions include face-to-face, texting, telephone and e-mail contact. Typical contact is high frequency with short duration (e.g., 7 contacts per month, ranging from 5 to 60 minutes).
Students remain in the program until they have graduated (up to about 6 years) or stopped attending the university.
Seita Scholars Program includes a homework component:
Students are expected to follow through with recommendations made by campus coaches, which often include referrals to other campus and community organizations, as well as completing basic life skill assignments, such as budgeting, scheduling, and follow-through.
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
- Office space on a university campus
- One full-time campus coach per 30 students from foster care
- Office assistant
- Program Director
- A full-time state foster care worker located on campus in the program office
- Student emergency fund
- Cell phones for program staff
- Collaborative partnership relationships with university departments and community organizations
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
- Minimum Bachelor’s degree for state foster care workers
- Minimum Master’s degree with clinical training and foster care experience for campus coaches
Education and Training Resources
There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.
- Jamie Bennett
Seita Scholars program
phone: (269) 929-0993
fax: (269) 387-8360
Training is obtained:
In-person and via web-based training
Number of days/hours:
Range from ½ day to 3 days
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Seita Scholars Program.
Unrau, Y. A. (2010). From foster care to college: The Seita Scholars Program at Western Michigan University. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 20(2), 17-20.
Unrau, Y. A., Font, S. A., & Rawls, G. (2012). Readiness for college engagement among students who have aged out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 76-83.
Unrau, Y. A., Hamilton, R., & Putney, K. (2010). The challenge of retaining college students who grew up in foster care. Retention Success, April, 1-5.
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: October 2013
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2018
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2012