Markkanen’s plan to help foster care students interested in skilled trades advances to Senate

LANSING — State Rep. Greg Markkanen’s plan to expand scholarship opportunities for children who have aged out of foster care has been approved by the Michigan House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund was established in 2008 to provide tuition assistance for higher education to children who have aged out of Michigan’s foster care system. Currently, Michigan students must attend a university, four-year college or a community college to be eligible for the Fostering Future Scholarship. Markkanen’s plan would expand eligibility to include students who attend a skilled trades training program.

“This simple change will give every young person in foster care a chance to succeed, regardless of whether they’re interested in attending college or training for a career in the trades,” said Markkanen, a retired teacher from Hancock.

The Pew Charitable Trusts estimates just 20 percent of foster youth who graduate from high school attend college, compared with 60 percent of high school graduates overall.

Markkanen said his plan will give vulnerable young people additional opportunities to improve their future after they age out of Michigan’s foster care system.

“In today’s job market, there is high demand for people who are interested in entering fields like welding, automotive technology, trucking and the building trades. All of these careers offer high wages and good benefits without requiring a college education,” Markkanen said. “Foster care students deserve the option to pursue these opportunities.”

House Bill 4406 now advances to the Senate for consideration.