The Carillon

The Key to Success

Liliana Hernandez, M.S.W., M.P.P. ’09

By Stephanie Snyder
Liliana Hernandez

With over 10 years working in child welfare under her belt, Liliana Hernandez understands the difficulties most children in kinship or foster care face in higher education. While attending graduate school at the University at Albany – where she earned dual master’s degrees in public policy and social work – Hernandez interned at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and helped young adults recently aged out of foster care apply for financial assistance to attend college. In researching her master’s thesis, Hernandez discovered a strong need for services that help students in kinship or foster care transition to, and succeed in, college. She is focusing her efforts on improving the college experience for this specific demographic by establishing an endowment known as the Kinship Education for Youth to Succeed (KEYS) Scholarship at UAlbany.

The purpose of the KEYS Scholarship is to help cover the financial gap between cost of attendance and any other financial assistance qualified student(s) may already be receiving. Hernandez is working closely with UAlbany’s Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) to establish the scholarship. “Most young people in foster or kinship care would likely quality for EOP, which they may not even be aware of,” added Hernandez.

Hernandez serves as program specialist, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She focuses on improving child welfare practices in kinship care and promoting the educational outcomes for transition-age youth. “I want to see all children from kinship or foster care succeed in college and go on to become leaders in their community,” said Hernandez. She would like to see the addition of a full-service success program geared specifically toward college students from kinship care or foster care. “If we can do this at UAlbany, we may be able to across the whole SUNY system.”

To learn more about Hernandez’s efforts, visit