This week saw the release of Fostering Success: Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth In/From Care. Researched and written by Deborah Rutman and Carol Hubberstey of the University of Victoria School of Social Work, this unique, made in BC report helps us to understand what can be done differently to help young people in and from care succeed in high school.
At our report launch event a panel of former youth in care and professionals working in the education system shared moving stories of their own experiences which resonated deeply with the findings of the report. The panel included three young women, all of whom graduated from high school, who shared that they would not have been able to do so without the support of their peers, their teachers, or finding a place to succeed within an alternative school setting. Panelists spoke about the importance of accessing food at school, finding a safe place, being held to the same expectations as their peer group, and finding a passion such as theatre. These stories mirror the report findings on supports that help young people complete high school; relationship-based approaches, consistency and continuity, and fostering participation in extra-curricular activities.
Additionally, Sue Dorey, Manager of Youth Services in the Burnaby School District, expanded on the report’s discussion of the need for cross-sectoral action to make improvements to the system. It is not the school system alone that will improve outcomes for youth in and from care. And finally, Glen Hansman, the President-Elect of the BC Teachers Federation, cautioned against the danger of differing expectations for different students in our education system, and spoke about the commitment of teachers to making a difference for the young people in their classrooms who are in foster care.
We know that greater educational attainment is associated with better health, well-being and social inclusion, and also contributes to the development of social capital. We also know that young people in and from foster care have educational aspirations for high school completion and post-secondary education. We can no longer accept that less than 50% of them graduate from high school in BC. This report shows us that young people in care need exactly the kinds of support that our Write the Future petition asks for – particularly long-term relationships with caring adults and a chance to make a contribution to their community.
Report: Fostering Success, Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth In/From Care
Research by University of Victoria’s School of Social Work shows that youth from foster care feel
school is their anchor, and aspire go on to post-secondary education. Identifies what helps youth from foster care successfully complete high school from the perspective of young people, educators, child welfare specialists, policy makers, and researchers.