Peel CAS and local school boards sign Joint Protocol for Student Achievement - Youth involved with child welfare to benefit from partnership
Did you know that 46% of crown wards graduated from high school in Ontario in 2012/13, compared to the overall graduation rate of 83%? A new protocol, created through a partnership between CAS’s and school boards, is aiming to change this statistic and help youth involved with children’s aid societies achieve their educational potential.
“We want to ensure students receive the support and stability they need while in school,” says Rav Bains, Chief Executive Officer, Peel CAS. “The protocol development was led by the Crown Ward Educational Championship Team (CWECT) and facilitates improved communication between CASs and school boards as well as caregivers and students.”
Geoff Katumba, Youth Success Coordinator with Peel CAS is excited about the impact this joint protocol will have on the youth he works with every day. “This protocol sets out practices and processes to give youth who are involved with the child welfare system the same educational opportunities as other students,” says Katumba. “It allows for agencies and schools to share information and will assist with students registering and transferring schools. Most importantly it supports student achievement.”
Children and youth involved in the child welfare face unique challenges including frequent moves, poor social connections, lack of identity in schools, the stigma of being in care, disrupted and lack of school supports which affect their educational success.
In March 2015, the Province released a provincial template, which was developed in consultation with educators, children’s aid and family and children’s services representatives and youth formerly in care. While the protocols are not mandated, the province has encouraged agencies to sign local agreements to ensure the best support for students. Peel CAS is one of 15 signatory agencies to sign the Joint Protocol for Student Achievement (JPSA) for Dufferin-Halton-Peel-Waterloo-Wellington regions. “We are very excited to partner with other organizations who all share a common goal of seeing youth succeed,” adds Katumba.
Henry, a former youth in care feels that the Joint Protocol for Student Achievement is a big step in the right direction for helping youth succeed. “I’m excited about education and child welfare coming together to motivate youth in care to finish high school and pursue a post secondary education,” says Henry. Just 11 when he first became involved with Peel CAS, Henry is now 20 and has just completed his third year at Ryerson University in Criminology. “This collaboration is a big deal. I wish this protocol was around when I was going to high school. Now it’s not just your social worker worrying about your success but a partnership between the schools and the CAS to ensure all youth have equal opportunities to succeed in school.”
This summer Henry is aiming to work once again for the OACAS on the YouthCAN team as a program coordinator. In this role, he will help advocate for current and former youth within the child welfare system at a provincial level. “Ultimately I think we will see an increase in the number of youth involved with the child welfare system graduating from high school, which is what we all want.”
About Peel’s Crown Ward Education Championship Team
The Crown Ward Education Championship Team was created by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities in collaboration with Ministries of Education and Children and Youth Services, to increase educational success of Crown Wards in Ontario. Members come from Children’s Aid Societies, Boards of Education and post secondary institutions and employment services. The Dufferin/Halton/Peel CWECT was formed in 2010 and has been instrumental in leading the development of the Joint Protocol for Student Achievement.