Ontario Strengthening Educational Supports for Children and Youth in Care
May 13, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is setting children and youth in care up for success by investing an additional $1.5 million in the Education Liaison program. The program helps connect students to supports such as tutoring, academic enrichment, career mentoring and skills development and improves collaboration between children’s aid societies and school boards. With this investment, the total annual funding for this program has increased to $5 million. “Education is critical for success and every child and youth deserves to get the support when needed, including those in care,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Accessing these educational supports is going to help kids and young people in care get the help they need to focus on their studies, setting them up for success as they get older.” The expanded program will now support a full-time Education Liaison in every children’s aid society. The Education Liaisons will focus on improving the educational outcomes of children and youth in care by coordinating educational services and building capacity within children’s aid societies and school boards. This work includes:
Connecting students to educational supports with school boards and community resources, like mental health services and specialized assessments
Generating plans to help students at risk of suspension and help students transition between grades and schools and to postsecondary learning
Helping increase student enrolments for students who move schools or who attend specialized care, custody and corrections programs
Facilitating applications for the Ministry of Education’s Transportation and Stability Supports Program funding, that seeks to improve the educational experience and outcomes of students in care by ensuring positive and stable connections to school and learning during times of instability and transition
Supporting students, societies and caregivers in responding to educational needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including shifting to online learning and providing tutoring.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed, and this targeted investment will benefit children and youth in care to ensure every child can succeed and receive the supports they deserve,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our government is stepping up to support students with a historic $1.6 billion investment in mental health, special education needs, and other supports to ensure a safe and successful 2021-22 school year.”
In 2019-20, children’s aid societies reported 3,005 children and youth received direct services through the Education Liaison program. Of these, 2,475 were referred to specialized services, such as tutoring, academic enrichment, career mentoring and skills development. About 1,900 students identified as First Nation, Metis, Inuit or another Indigenous identity.
The Education Liaison program aligns with the Strengthening Youth Supports pillar of Ontario’s child welfare redesign strategy, which targets improving education and employment for children and youth in care. The strategy promotes prevention, early intervention, improved service experience and improved outcomes for those who need protection services from children’s aid societies and residential care.
Children and youth leaving the child welfare system are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes, such as homelessness, mental health concerns, unemployment, lack of education and involvement in the justice system.
The Ontario government is providing more than $1.6 billion in resources to respond to COVID-19 and protect public education for the 2021-22 school year. This funding includes a wide range of supports, such as additional staffing to support remote learning and social distancing through smaller class sizes and support for remote learning technology, including improvements to connectivity within school buildings.
Students and families will also benefit from recently announced investments to support student mental health including over $80 million projected for the 2021-22 school year. This investment also includes $35 million in COVID-19 supports to address local priorities such as access to school-based mental health professionals, educator professional learning and collaborating with community mental health providers for students requiring more intensive supports, and student engagement.