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UTEP Foster Homeless program ensures success for students

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Eduardo Ibarra
The “Minding Minds” is a monument located at the entrance of UTEP, installed in 2010.

Back in 2010 a staff member became aware of a student living on campus and was later dealing with house insecurity. This situation would later be the stepping stone for UTEP to form The Foster Homeless Adopted Resources (FHAR). Since then, FHAR has strived to help students obtain their degree while also providing  resources they need to help them progress in their academic careers.  

The director of the Student Success center, Tamara Hernandez, helps students with barriers that prevent them from reaching their degree completion. Hernandez has overseen FHAR since 2018. 

“FHAR provides comprehensive, academic and basic needs support to any student who is a foster youth alumni or is dealing with housing insecurity,” Hernandez said. “Housing insecurity can include couch surfing, having a place to stay that’s not secure, so any student that is not lacking fixed, adequate nighttime residence would qualify for support under FHAR.” 

Hernandez says that since COVID the number of students that have qualified for the program has doubled with 150 students registered for this spring semester with more to be expected.  

“One of our first goals, if a student comes to us and they’re housing insecure, if we can feasibly, assist them with getting transitioned into residence life on campus housing,” Hernandez said. “We try to do that because it tends to be the most efficient, safest, most cost effective place for them”. 

Though more expensive compared to finding other housing in the short-term Hernandez says this allows students to focus on school and not have to worry about other costly needs when searching for other housing. FHAR also provides necessities like soap, shampoo and more for  students in their office which is located in the UTEP library, 3rd floor, Suite 310. 

“We have, a supply closet actually here in our office,” Hernandez said. “It’s filled with things like shampoo and soap, razors, body wash, toilet paper, paper towels. Like, the basic needs, that people have, you know, hygiene items and just basic essentials, and students can request those.” 

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society donated stockings filled with hygienic items before the winter break. The staff was able to gift them to students before they left for the holidays and Hernandez says that if students need help during the winter months FHAR will offer support and resources during that time as well. 

FHAR also works closely with school districts and the Department of Family Protective Services to help make students transition into college smoother. Students who also are in the foster care system or aged out are eligible for a tuition waiver that does not expire. An initiative to further ensure students with housing insecurity can meet their their academic goals. 

“We work really closely with the student to make sure they submit what they need so that they get that tuition waiver,”  Hernandez said. “If a student is coming from our region and is already on the radar, we get that notification before they even step foot on campus.” 

FHAR is always on-hand working with students, attempting to ensure they continue their schooling by advising and registering them for classes as well reaching out to make sure they do. Hernandez says the team and herself find all possible solutions for students in need of their services. For more information and how to support FHAR visit their UTEP website or email them at [email protected] 

Adam Regalado is the multimedia editor at the Prospector and may be reached at [email protected]  

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About the Contributors
Adam Regalado, Multimedia Editor
Adam Regalado is a senior here at The University of Texas at El Paso studying multimedia journalism. Adam is the multimedia editor at The Prospector. Once he graduates, he plans to be a reporter for a news station in Texas while growing his platform and brand on social media promoting LGBTQ+ rights.
Eduardo Ibarra, Contributor/Photographer
Eduardo Ibarra is a senior at The University of Texas at El Paso expected to graduate in fall of 2024. He is a contributor at The Prospector. His major is multimedia journalism with a minor in film studies. He would like to dedicate my life as a photojournalist and multimedia journalist either working in a newspaper or a major news station. He would also pursue to earn a MFA in Photography at UNM so he can teach photography and film studies at university level. It is his dream job along working with Reuters as a photojournalist in Spain, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and New Zealand.
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