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Fostering opportunities: Improving educational outcomes for youth in care in British Columbia

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Children and youth in care in British Columbia face significantly lower high school completion rates than their peers, with only half of these young people completing high school by the age of 19. This study addresses systemic barriers in the child welfare and education systems in British Columbia that contribute to poor educational outcomes for youth in care. Systemic barriers and promising practices are explored through a literature review, jurisdictional scan, case study analysis, and expert interviews. Drawing on research findings, key challenges that contribute to poor educational outcomes are identified. These findings are then used to identify and analyze policy options targeted at improving educational outcomes for youth in care in BC. In the short to medium term, the study recommends the implementation of professional development for school district staff and the creation of a new Ministry of Education designation that includes targeted funding and an Individualized Education Plan for all youth in care in BC schools. In the long term, the study recommends extending the age of care supports to 21, implementing school-based social workers in all school districts, and increasing alternative education programs within schools in districts with an identified need.
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