MONTGOMERY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New beginnings are coming to West Virginia University Institute of Technology after an announcement revealed the campus will soon become a college for foster children.
The official announcement was made Tuesday morning by KVC Health Systems, a company based in Kansas that focuses on behavioral healthcare for foster children. The company is still working on a lease agreement with WVU Tech, but hopes to have an agreement finalized by this summer.
Tommy Bailey, a spokesperson with KVC Health Systems, says the college does not have a name yet but will provide two-year degrees to foster children for free. Bailey says the plan is to start with around 50 students and continue to grow each year until they reach around 500 students.
Bailey says this is the first college ever specifically for foster children.
"The underpinning of this college is fundamentally different than a traditional college because of the supportive network, the available counseling that all of these young people have been exposed to and are victims of trauma, so how we support them and help them in their transition," Bailey said.
According to national statistics, more than 400,000 children are in foster care. Of that, only 20 percent attend college, but less than half graduate.
"Most of them don't pursue any kind of education after high school, many of them don't complete high school because they don't have the support necessary to move forward successfully," Bailey said.
To attend the new college, Bailey says students have to apply and be accepted into the program.
Bailey went on to say that more than 5,000 children are in foster care in West Virginia, so recruiting students from the surrounding area is important to the company.
"We have to try something different, and this is our something different. We're going to create a fundamentally different college and help these young people have the same opportunity that many of us have had," Bailey said.
KVC also plans to hire around 200 staff members.
Bailey says they plan to have the new college ready by the beginning of 2018.