Case manager supports success of independent and former foster care students

Abington case manager

Mary Ellen Glick, the case manager at Penn State Abington, provides specific, holistic supports to students so they can navigate roadblocks on the way to earning their degrees.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington students who encounter challenges to achieving success have a full-time advocate in case manager Mary Ellen Glick, who helps students address life circumstances that create barriers on the path to earning their degrees. 

"We have to remember that getting into college doesn’t mean getting through,” she said. 

Glick can work with any Abington student, but she specifically coordinates the campus's targeted, holistic support for those who have spent time in foster care as part of the University-wide Fostering Lions program, or who are classified as independent. Her assistance includes ongoing coaching, connecting students to services, developing skills for post-college success, and even finals care packages.  

“I see a lot of students who are shouldering many different concerns and responsibilities. They are working, struggling with transportation, studying. I can be a thought partner with them to strategize a big-picture plan and make sure they are accessing financial resources from the University or the government and balancing that against academic program needs,” she said. 

Glick, who has worked at Abington for three years, said former foster youth and independent students are often hidden populations. They are identified through a variety of means including surveys at new student orientation and assorted points of contact throughout campus. 

"We don’t want students to miss out on eligibility because of lack of awareness. We want to make sure they know there are benefits out there based on their individual circumstances and coach them through the steps to receive grants and benefits,” she said. 

Glick hosts a monthly complimentary dinner with this cohort, sometimes arranging for a speaker, but also to help them develop relationships with each other. 

“I am a resource for them, but they can also be a resource for each other,” she said. 

I can be a thought partner with students to strategize a big picture plan and make sure they are accessing financial resources ... and balancing that against academic program needs.

—Mary Ellen Glick , Case manager

Glick leverages her child welfare experience through Student Care and Advocacy within the campus Student Affairs unit, assisting students in an assortment of circumstances by providing the tools and supports to make difficult situations more manageable. 

She co-chairs the Abington Care Team, which provides the campus community with a mechanism to assist students who may be having academic or nonemergency health and safety issues. Once the team receives a referral, representatives from across campus including athletics, global programs, academic affairs, and residence life review the case.  

“The students could benefit from multiple touchpoints, so we circle the wagons. We break down the silos so we can provide comprehensive support. It could be a medical issue, a death in the family, food insecurity, or emergency housing. We’ve been busy this year,” she said.  

She serves as the Title IX campus resource person, the point of contact for initial intakes and guiding complainants through supports and processes available through the University. Glick is a member of the Student Emergency Assistance Fund committee together with staff from financial aid and the bursar’s office. 

Glick was recently tapped to share her expertise in child welfare, refugee resettlement, and student affairs at the Refugee Education Summit and Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference. 

“We are boots on the ground to support these students so we shared strategies for student engagement, retention, and success,” she said. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.