Foster youths honored for academic achievement


Contributed Photo Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson, first lady Tonette Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers participated in the annual Foster Youth Graduation Ceremony in Madison on Tuesday. The 27 graduates who were able to attend the celebration represented the 82 foster youth throughout Wisconsin who are known to have reached graduated in the 2016-17 academic year.

A special celebration was held Tuesday at the Wisconsin Executive Residence in Madison honoring the academic accomplishments of current and former foster youth.

Ryan VanNewKirk, of Shawano, was among the students recognized.

First lady Tonette Walker gave the keynote speech during the Department of Children and Families’ fifth annual Foster Youth Graduation Ceremony. She was joined by DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson and State Superintendent Tony Evers in recognizing the young adults for their recent graduations from high school or for reaching other post-secondary educational milestones.

“This event is a heartwarming way to honor the accomplishments of these special graduates,” Walker said. “Foster youth often have faced significant trauma in their lives and frequently experience additional challenges during their academic journey, so it is my distinct privilege to be able to recognize these amazing and resilient young men and women. They serve as role models to other foster youth, and help to remind all of us about the power of perseverance.”

Nationally, only about 54 percent of foster youth will graduate from high school and only 2 percent will go onto college. Most suffer not only the loss of their biological family, but also might have had to face multiple foster home moves, changes in case workers and being uprooted from friends and schools. On average, foster children will move six times between kindergarten and 12th grade.

The 27 graduates who were able to attend the celebration represented the 82 foster youth throughout Wisconsin who are known to have reached commencement in the 2016-17 academic year.

“These students prove that with hard work and determination, you can overcome life challenges, finish school, and give yourself a solid foundation for a successful future,” Anderson said. “They are truly inspirations to us all.”

For information on Wisconsin’s foster care services or how to become a foster parent,visit the Department of Children and Families website at https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/parent or the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families website at www.fosterparentsrock.org.