Piedmont Virginia Community College is partnering with Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Inc., to provide educational support for students in foster care.

The new partnership will align services offered through Piedmont CASA, an organization that provides trained volunteers appointed by the courts to promote and support safe, permanent and nurturing homes for child victims of abuse and neglect, with services offered through PVCC’s Great Expectations program. PVCC’s Great Expectations is part of a statewide program that helps current and former foster youth in Central Virginia gain access to a community college education and successfully transition to living independently.

Through the partnership, Piedmont CASA will provide three coaches from its “Bridges to Success” program, a local initiative designed to manage and facilitate independent living and career development services for foster youth, beginning at age 14 and continuing until those youth turn 18 or 21. Piedmont CASA is also collaborating with the Department of Social Services to create individual transition plans for youth that include a career assessment component, as well as provide assistance with enrolling and referring foster youth to training and educational programs such as PVCC’s Great Expectations program. Great Expectations staff will provide career development services for current and former foster youth in the PVCC service region who are 13 or older and who are not served by Bridges to Success coaches. Great Expectations will also provide Piedmont CASA coaches with support services for their foster youth who are enrolled at PVCC. Support services may include financial assistance and other resources.

“We’re very excited about this partnership,” said La’Tisha Jackson, Great Expectations advisor at PVCC. “Joining with Piedmont CASA will allow us to improve educational and employment outcomes for foster youth by providing consistent and stable guidance starting at age 13 and continuing past age 18, the age when they would normally ‘age out’ of the foster care system and be left on their own. We’re preparing students in advance so that when they get to PVCC, they’re ready to be college students and are better prepared to achieve their educational and career goals.”

Alicia Lenahan, president and CEO of Piedmont CASA, Inc., agrees.

“We want our kids to see that there is a world out there and a place for them in it. That’s why we developed the Bridges to Success program: to bridge the critical gap between what CASA Volunteers can accomplish through advocacy, and what social workers can accomplish given their caseloads,” said Lenahan, “By partnering Bridges to Success with Great Expectations, we’re able to get foster kids started on their educational journey with the motivation and support they, like all kids, need in order to stay on track and build strong, fulfilling and independent lives.”

To learn more about PVCC’s Great Expectations program, visit www.pvcc.edu/greatexpectations. To learn more about Piedmont CASA, visit www.pcasa.org.