OCCRL Staff and Affiliates

Chequita S. Brown



Chequita S. Brown

Director of Knowledge Management, Casey Family Programs

Chequita S. Brown’s interdisciplinary research interest focuses on examining the lived experiences of students with foster care histories in higher education, including college access and retention, student engagement and development, and college and career outcomes. 

Along with her position as director at Casey Family Programs, Dr. Brown is a Child Well-Being Network Research Fellow in the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky.


  • Ph.D., Education Policy, Organization & Leadership at Illinois
  • M.S.; English Studies, Illinois State University
  • B.S.; Sociology, Illinois State University



From top left, Chequita Brown, Kate Danielson, Tricia Wagner, and Anna WandtkeStrategies to Cultivate a Foster-Friendly Culture on Community College Campuses

In this episode, Chequita Brown talks with Kate Danielson of the organization Foster Progress, as well as with Anna Wandtke and Tricia Wagner of Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. The group discusses how to cultivate a foster-friendly culture at Illinois community colleges.

Listen to the podcast.

View the transcript.


Jonathan StacyNavigating College as a Foster Care Alum

In this episode, OCCRL research assistant Chequita S. Brown talks with Jonathan Stacy, a sophomore at Heartland Community College who is pursuing his studies and a possible career in criminal justice.

Listen to the podcast and view the transcript.


Maddy DayThe Impact of Campus-Based Support Programming on Foster Care Collegians' Postsecondary Access and Retention

In this episode, Chequita Brown of OCCRL talks with Maddy Day about the Fostering Success initiative in Michigan and the impact of campus-based support programming on foster carecollegians' postsecondary access and retention.

Listen to the podcast.

PDF Transcript


Patricia PalmerHow Youth-in-Care in Illinois Can Access Educational Resources to Pursue a Postsecondary Education

In this episode, OCCRL research assistant Chequita Brown continues the conversation on foster care youth by talking about with Patricia Palmer about accessing available resources in Illinois for youth-in-care who want to pursue a postsecondary education.

Listen to the podcast.

PDF Transcript




Postsecondary Programs and Services for Current and Former Foster Youth in California


By Chequita S. Brown, Nidia Ruedas-Gracia, and Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher

This brief highlights postsecondary programs and services in California that support youth in care, in addition to young adults who are aging out of foster care.  Read more.


Thought Paper: Tracking College-to-Career Pathways for Illinois Foster Youth

By Chequita S. Brown

In this OCCRL Thought Paper, Chequita S. Brown relates how tracking the data of students with foster care experience helps to recognize them as a legitimate student population. She offers recommendations on how to do this and conveys the many obstacles that can hinder the academic and career success of foster youth. Read more.


Postsecondary Programs and Services for Current and Former Foster Care Youth in Illinois


By Chequita S. Brown, Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, Nidia Ruedas-Gracia, and Nathaniel M. Stewart

This research brief provides an overview of programs and services that helps strengthen postsecondary pathways for current and former foster youth in Illinois. Read more.

Foster Youth and Basic-Needs Insecurity


By Dra. Nidia Ruedas-Gracia, Chequita S. Brown, Dr. Mauriell Amechi, Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, and Nathaniel M. Stewart

This article discusses how COVID-19 has intensified the vulnerabilities of foster youth and former foster youth, many of whom are Black, Native American, Alaska Native, and multiracial children who have a higher rate of placement into foster care than White youth (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2016). Read more.

(From the Fall 2020 UPDATE on Research and Leadership)

Voices and Viewpoints

The Irony of ‘Aging Out’: College Years are When They Need Us Most

by Nathaniel Stewart / Jul 29, 2020

In the U.S., individuals are legally viewed as adults in the eyes of the law at 18 years of age. This is also the age when the state decides that foster youth in this country are old enough to “age out” of the system and live on their own, emancipated and free to do as they please. The irony in this way of thinking is that this is the age—as youth begin to enter their college years—when a formal system of care designed to provide services is the most crucial.

With college being such a huge point in the lives of young adults, effectively shaping their future trajectory as adults and citizen in society, the foster youth population is at a huge disadvantage before it even gets a chance to enroll. Every year more than 23,000 children age out of the U.S. foster care system. According to the National Foster Youth Institute (2020), “After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.”

With their services being stripped away at 18, it can be tough to navigate such a new environment on one’s own. In January of this year, the Children’s Bureau (a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) began funding a multiphase grant program called Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH) to build research on what works to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults in the child welfare system. YARH focuses on three populations: (1) adolescents who enter foster care from ages 14 to 17; (2) young adults aging out of foster care; and (3) homeless youth/young adults with foster care histories up to age 21 (Davis & Tucker, 2020).

The research of YARH discusses how two youth-at-risk-of-homelessness teams utilize a practice called continuous quality improvement to refine and improve their practices with foster youth.  The program describes continuous quality improvement as a process of “enhancing the operation and performance” of a practice focused on youth in foster care through regularly collecting and analyzing data and identifying and testing change strategies (Davis & Tucker, 2020). This type of attention to detail is what is needed for such a population of youth to truly assess and identify components of a program that may need to be adjusted through intervention. The practice of continuous quality improvement was successful in helping both teams refine their intervention practices and improve their programs’ statistics on the foster youth they serve. 

Research conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for an extension of “high-quality, developmentally-appropriate services until age 21” (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2013). Their work discusses the steep consequences faced by all Americans, not just foster youth, when children “age-out” of the foster care system without proper attention and care further into their adulthood years. Results revealed that, on average, taxpayers and communities pay $300,000 in social costs (equal to taxpayer-funded costs such as public assistance and incarceration, as well as costs absorbed by the community such as wages lost as a result of dropping out of high school) over the lifetime of every young person who ages out of the foster care system without proper support (Annie E. Casey Foundation, April 19, 2013). 

Eighteen is the beginning of a crossroads for a lot of youth who are trying to figure out what they want to become.

All in all, we cannot afford to just forget about individuals in the foster youth population when they turn 18. Eighteen is the beginning of a crossroads for a lot of youth who are trying to figure out what they want to become. Practicing continuous quality improvement of wraparound support services and extending services until 21 years of age, will improve the outcomes of foster youth and foster care alum.



Aging out of foster care in America. (2013, April 19). Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Davis, L. Tucker, & L. P. (2020, January). Lessons from the Field: Using Continuous Quality Improvement to Refine Interventions for Youth at Risk of Homelessness. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

51 Useful aging out of foster care statistics. (2020, June 3). National Foster Youth Institute.
All OCCRL Posts ›