Greta Munns, the Fostering Success program liaison at University of Wisconsin-Stout, has been appointed to the Future of the Family Commission, part of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (WDCF).
The commission, which focuses on helping families find the support, guidance and resources they need to thrive in Wisconsin, was created in January by Gov. Scott Walker.
WDCF Secretary Eloise Anderson invited Munns after learning of her passion for working with foster care students and efforts with UW-Stout’s Fostering Success program.
Munns, who will serve one year, is excited to bring to the commission the stories of foster youth she knows and to work on policy that will help them transition into adulthood.
“It will be good to have a foster voice at the table,” Munns said. “Oftentimes that voice gets overlooked.”
Fostering Success at UW-Stout
In 2014, the Fostering Success program was established at UW-Stout through a grant from WDCF. The program provides guidance and support for university students who have foster care in their backgrounds and also reaches out to middle and high school foster youth, their social workers and other supportive adults with information about making a successful transition to higher education.
Support for the program comes from evidence that foster youth are often at a disadvantage when it comes to pursuing higher education and that higher education helps lift foster youth out of a cycle of poverty. A University of Chicago study revealed that many foster youth approach adulthood with significant educational deficits. Only 6.3 percent of Wisconsin foster youth attended a college or university recruitment fair and 2.3 percent received SAT preparation by age 22, the study found.
At least 20 students who spent time in foster care are enrolled at UW-Stout.
Foster youth advocate
As a teenager, more than 10 years ago, Munns was in foster care.
Munns, who has a B.S. degree in art education from UW-Stout, was invited to give the keynote address at the 2014 high school graduation party for foster care youth held at the governor’s mansion in Madisonhosted by first lady Tonette Walker. She also gave the TEDxUW-Stout talk “Without a Seat at the Table, Youth are on the Menu” in fall 2015.
Munns and Fostering Success colleagues are organizing the third annual summer overnight at UW-Stout for youth in foster care statewide who are interested in pursuing higher education. Youth will stay in residence halls and will hear presentations on four- and two-year institutions and apprentice programs, including how to apply.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month. Munns will coordinate the donation of supplies for youth who are entering foster care. She also will write an article on children’s rights for an online children’s rights blog.
In the April edition of Queen of the Castle magazine, Munns wrote the article Fostering Growth about the problems foster youth have transitioning into adulthood and her own journey through foster care. “Now I get to pay it forward as the foster youth liaison,” she said. “This program, and others like it across the nation, offers a place where former foster youth can grow and succeed.”
To donate, refer to Stout University Foundation Fostering Success program.