LYNCHBURG, Va. – There are more than 750 children who are ready for adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is sharing the stories of one child who needs a home every day in November in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2023 marks the seventh year 10 News is doing this series.
Going to college for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but for kids who grew up in foster care, it can be impossible to overcome many of the hurdles. But a program at all of Virginia’s community colleges is making it easier.
“I’m their friend; I’m their coach, a mentor,” said Mickey Paige, who is all of that and more to students at Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) in Lynchburg.
“Mickey has just helped me to expand and to look at life differently,” said Quametria Carter, a CVCC student who will graduate with a certificate in medical coding.
“Any stressors in my life or anything that I just need to talk to somebody, open listening ears, somebody who’s going to love me unconditionally. You know, he is that person for me,” said Katie Bradley, who is going to CVCC to earn an associate’s degree in paramedicine.
Carter and Bradley are part of the Great Expectations program. It is a special program for people who’ve spent time in foster care and are now in college.
Paige is the foster care coordinator at CVCC and helps students navigate financial aid, class schedules, and much more. He said one student needed a $60 supply for welding class but didn’t have the money.
“Without my program, she wouldn’t have been about to finish the class. She’d probably dropped out. I got it one day, she cried. She was so overwhelmed over that simple thing,” Paige remembers.
This year marks a milestone. Great Expectations is now at all 23 community colleges in Virginia. Virginia Western just joined.
Great Expectations data shows:
- More than 1,612 degrees, diplomas, certificates, and credentials from the Virginia Community College System and other post-secondary institutions have been awarded to 933 students who have experienced foster care since Great Expectations started in 2008.
- Students graduate at three times the national rate for foster youth
- 608+ students transferred to other college and universities
“We make a difference in people’s lives. Great Expectations says we’re building a bond in the community and we are,” said Paige, who gives all the students encouragement when they need it.
“Without the program and without his help and his mentorship and stuff like that, I don’t know where I would be. I probably wouldn’t be in school right now,” said Bradley.
“I’m grateful. I’m very thankful for where I am in my life and the people that have been in my life helping me to succeed and get on to the next level, a stage in my life,” said Carter.
Great Expectations saves $5.4 million annually in estimated social and economic costs to the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to staff.
You can find more information about the Great Expectations programs, now available at all Virginia Community Colleges in this link.
There are about 5,000 children in Virginia’s foster care program and more than 750 of those children can be adopted. If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact the VDSS Division of Family Services Adoption Recruitment Coordinator, at email@example.com.
To see other 30 Days of Hope stories visit us here.
We also have a list of frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption including the qualifications, cost, and training required in this link.