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Youth with crown ward status planning for success at NU

Once a youth with Crown Ward status turns 18, he or she becomes independent and is no longer under the care of the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).  Without family support this transition is difficult and the option of attending postsecondary is daunting and often unattainable.

Nipissing University, Canadore College, the Children’s Aid Society and local Boards of Education recently hosted an event to encourage youth with Crown Ward status to realize their potential for educational success, including attending college and/or university.

Students, foster parents, school champions, as well as representatives from a variety of associated agencies, had the opportunity to listen to world-renowned motivational speaker Derek Clarke, who has a history of his own as a child in care. Participants also recived tours around the shared campuses to get a feel for what postsecondary life might look like.

The event aims to inspire and inform. Sessions provided information about working together to achieve success in school, self-esteem and motivation, and how to transition into postsecondary successfully by showcasing the broad range of resources available to students to support them in reaching their maximum potential.

Canadore College and Nipissing University’s Schulich School of Education are part of the Northern Ontario Crown Ward Education Championship Team collaborative, a collaboration that works together to enhance educational opportunities for youth in care and those with Crown Ward status. 

The team is funded by federal and provincial governments and funneled through (CAS).  The team’s goals include increasing participation of these youth in intermediate schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities through self-advocacy skills, awareness and support; and raising awareness of how partners can be more responsive to their needs in the communities of Nipissing, Parry Sound and Muskoka.

Nipissing University's Dr. Mike Parr and Dr. Warnie Richardson have worked with the Children’s Aid Society, colleges, universities and other child advocacy agencies as representatives for the Northern Ontario Team for the past six years and have been instrumental in organizing this year’s event. 

“Youth with Crown Ward status, youth who have been removed from their homes and placed in the care of the government are at increased risk of being marginalized and dropping out of school,” said Dr. Parr.  “All of these kids have great potential but through no fault of their own, face obstacles that others are fortunate enough not to have to deal with. Through this event and the collective efforts of the Championship Team, we can help these youth overcome the challenges they might face in both their schooling endeavors and with their overall development.”

Sean Lougheed, professor in Canadore College’s Mental Health and Addiction Worker program says that educational attainment remains an important social determinant of health in Canada.

“Yet, there is so much disparity between groups of young adults,” said Lougheed. “If we can remove or at least lessen the systemic barriers in accessing postsecondary, such as cost, like the province’s Crown Ward educational initiative does, we can go a long way towards improving health outcomes for individuals, and assisting them to strengthen their communities.”  

Partners in the Northern Ontario Crown Ward Education Championship Team include:  Canadore College, Child Services of Muskoka, Family Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, Georgian College, Hands The FamilyHelpNetwork.ca, Near North District School Board, Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board, Nipissing and Parry Sound Children’s Aid Society, Nipissing University, Trillium Lakelands District School Board, and Yes! Employment.
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