Health Team

As foster kids transition to adult life, Wake Tech program offers special help

Posted February 18, 2016

The costs of college can be a major barrier for many young students, especially those phasing out of the foster care system.

Tuition and book costs are one obstacle, but they may also have costly medical needs.

Fostering Bright Futures is a program that connects those students with the care they need – at no cost.

Clarissa Epps grew up in a foster care home, but after high school, she knew it was time to try to make it on her own. Fostering Bright Futures helped her pursue her education and career goals.

Epps started at Wake Technical Community College.

"They helped me sign up for classes. They assist me if I ever have any problems financially," she said. "I'm trying to get a bachelor's degree in physical education."

Through Wake Tech's dental hygiene program, many students in the FBF program are screened for potential problems.

Like many, Epps needs costly dental care but can't afford to pay for it.

"I needed some fillings, and I had like a bad cavity that needed a root canal and a crown," she said.

Her wisdom teeth also needed to come out. Epps learned after her consult that the cost of the work she needed done was between $8,000 and $10,000.

FBF contacted Wake Forest dentist Dr. Edmond Suh, who recently became a partner with the program.

"These are special kids. These are kids who've got the drive, who don't take anything for granted," Suh said. "They're really working hard. They just need a break to get over that hump."

Suh offered to fix all of Epps' dental issues at no cost.

"It was a blessing. It was a surprise," Epps said. "They did a great job. I didn't feel any pain."

Suh said Epps would have been in pain without the work.

"When things go south dentally, it's usually an ongoing, constant pain," he said.

Epps now plans to finish her two-year college transfer program this fall and then start taking classes at North Carolina Central University next spring.

"I'm thankful for the people who have helped me along the way," she said.


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