Teachers and FCS workers optimistic about Crown Ward Education Championship Team (CWECT) program
RYAN PAULSEN / DAILY OBSERVER Renfrew County FCS adolescent team worker Weiling Yap addresses a group of educators and fellow FCS workers at a day-long workshop following the launch of the Renfrew, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Crown Ward Education Championship Team pertnership agreement last week.
The new Crown Ward Education Championship Team (CWECT) partnership between local school boards and Family and Children's Services (FCS) is generating a lot of positive and optimistic talk, and not just the expected praise from those at the top levels of each stakeholder organization.
"I'm extremely optimistic," says Scott Buffam, student success teacher at Renfrew Collegiate Institute, during the lunch break of a day-long program workshop for teachers and front-line FCS workers. "Just in our first little session, we've been able to share a great deal of information with Family and Children's Service workers to ensure that the process is more valuable and gleans more results for the kids, which is what this is all about."
The partnership's goal, as Buffam alludes, is to increase communication between child welfare agencies and educators to increase the success rates for crown wards making their way through elementary and secondary school, and hopefully increasing the number that continue on to postsecondary institutions.
While on the surface, CWECT's role could seem to be mostly about helping crown wards access programming and services offered by the education system and allowing them to better navigate the various streams leading to higher levels of learning.
For Renfrew County FCS adolescent worker Weiling Yap, however, the true benefit of having better access to teachers and guidance staff who are aware of the challenges faced by crown wards goes much deeper than that.
"Some of our youth don't believe that they can do it" she says. "So right from the beginning it's not even navigating the system, it's the belief in yourself, and the confidence that you deserve it."
One of the challenges faced by crown ward students is the fact that moving from foster home to foster home makes for a very transient lifestyle, and the students are often also moving from school to school, sometimes dozens of times over the course of their education.
"When they face challenges through transitions," says Buffam, "and there are many challenges facing students in transition, there has to be that extra layer of support for them to get them back on track and provide them with additional guidance to help them succeed."
Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observr multimedia journalist.
Follow him on Twitter @PRyanPaulsen.