Texas A&M adopts program to help former foster care students

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - If you've been to college, you know it can take a support system to help you succeed. Texas A&M has started a program to help children who were in the foster care system receive that help.

The university already has a Former Foster and Adopted Aggies program. Now they've added the Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program.

SIL gives students who have aged out of the foster care system financial and moral support. Students 18 years and older must voluntarily opt back into the Texas foster care system for the state-funded program.

This will provide monthly stipends for year round housing, food, and other college expenses.

Melanie McKoin-Owens is a case manager for Student Assistance Services. She says students will also meet with her regularly to discuss grades, daily routines and life skills.

"We just want to make sure that they're reaching their goals and that they have someone that can hold them accountable,” said McKoin-Owens. “Our role here at the university is to help them achieve that, achieve graduation, to bridge what we know statistics say but what reality can be.”

Mikayla Slaydon, a sophomore at A&M, will be the first student to test out the new program.

Slaydon says the type of support SIL provides really makes a difference.

“It’s stressful figuring out what food you’re going to eat, where you’re going to live, where you’re going to go for summer breaks, for winters breaks if you don’t have that kind of support system,” said Slaydon.

McKoin-Owens says Slaydon will be the only student in the program this year but they hope it grows and benefits those who never thought college was an option.

“As the program grows, students will be able to connect together and own that identity of being a former foster student, and understanding what that means and how that can shape their lives moving forward,” said McKoin-Owens.

Slaydon says she hopes the program succeeds and encourages other foster students.

“College is a very possible thing that’s in your reach. There are so many things put in place to help you succeed and so many things to help you beat those statistics and this program is just another thing,” said Slaydon.

More than half the schools in the Texas A&M University System have this program in place.