Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Must Help Children and Youth in Care Achieve Academic Success: Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Must Help Children and Youth in Care Achieve Academic Success: Report

Article excerpt

Help kids in care achieve academic success: report

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VANCOUVER - More educational support is needed in British Columbia for children in government care so youths who have often suffered trauma in early life have a better chance of graduating high school, says the province's children's representative.

Bernard Richard said each school district should get funding to target the learning needs of students living in foster and group homes. He also called on school districts to provide "point people" to advocate for students.

Richard made six recommendations aimed at the Children's and Education ministries in a report issued Thursday, with specific steps for Indigenous children who he said would benefit from elders and more Aboriginal teachers providing cultural connections in classrooms.

Simple changes by the Children's Ministry, like allowing foster parents to sign permission slips for field trips, would go a long way to making students feel included instead of ostracized, he said in a conference call with reporters.

"Children and youth in care are all too often left out of field trips because a permission form has not been signed by their social worker, which can sometimes take days. These forms should be signed by the adult who is responsible for youth on a day-to-day basis."

One of Bernard's recommendations is repeated from an auditor general's report in 2015. It calls for the development and implementation of a system-wide strategy to close the gap on academic outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Richard said about 51 per cent of youth in care graduate secondary school but the rate is 89 per cent for other students.

Only 44 per cent of Indigenous students finish high school within six years of starting because they don't get enough support, including help with school work and mental health needs, he said.

"In general, if the overall graduation rate in B.C. dipped below 51 per cent or reached as low as 44 per cent protests would break out across the province, and rightly so. …

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