Education opportunities play an important part of building a young persons’ sense of identity and self-worth. Schooling for young people increases a young persons’ network and support. It is not just about the physical school they attend but the people that surround that schooling option. For example, education includes:
- teacher, support teacher and guidance officers that the young person has been involved with
- support groups within the school
- the physical school or education facility that they attend.
Young people can disengage with their education when they have care experiences. Young people in care are an at risk group for less desirable educational outcomes compared to the non (out of home) care population. Young people in care may not reach their academic potential, be over-represented in special education and are less likely to progress to tertiary or other post-secondary education. Reasons for disengagement are varied but can include:
- care arrangement changes, school changes, court appearances, family contact visits, attendance at therapeutic services and other commitments cause disruption and discontinuity
- when young people do change school, insufficient communication and/or delays in transfer of information by professionals may occur
- when care arrangements are organised, the education needs of the young person may not always be prioritised
- the impact of abuse and harm can affect a young person’s development, learning as well as social relationships
- young people transitioning from school to work or post-secondary education may not have the emotional, housing and financial support that young people in the non (out of home) care population may have to progress goals
Attendance and participation in education provides a young person more benefits than learning. Young people can engage in a range of social experiences which provide essential development for their social and emotional learning. Schooling also allows young people to develop positive and supportive relationships with other young people and adults, partake in activities, be in a forum where they can develop and refine their social and behavioural skills and be part of a community that provides them with a sense of connectedness and resilience.
Positive and supportive teachers and adults can be beneficial to young people who have experienced trauma. Building trust and quality relationships support their sense of worth and relational and physical permanency.
What can CSOs and carers do?
- Be positive about education and try to model and facilitate pro-education attitudes. Create a positive learning culture. Show enthusiasm!
- Enquire about a young person’s schooling, their progress, their perception of their school and their level of connectedness with staff.
- Celebrate progress and achievements. Encourage, encourage, encourage.
- Discuss education as a pathway to great things, explore aspirations and dreams! Cultivate their motivation and aspirations.
- Help make learning fun!
- Find ways of learning that make sense or are relevant to the young person.
- Be an advocate for the young person.
- Have a variety of interesting books and other learning media available.
- Participate with the young person in using the above. Read to and with the young person.
- Explore a young person’s interests and facilitate opportunities for participation in these interests.
- Become informed about what is available for the young person within and outside of school.
- Participate in and contribute to school events.
- Have a nice, quiet designated study space for the young person.
- Liaise with the school and meet promptly over any issues or potential difficulties. [Actively undertake planning and implement strategies in partnership.]
- Consider school choice and the importance of school stability; minimise disruptions; and advocate and arrange for appropriate support and assistance (specialised assistance may be required).
Care arrangements are an important part of a young person’s physical permanency however consideration must go beyond the physical placement (house and room). Physical permanency comes from the adults who support the young person in their carer arrangement, be it a foster carer, kinship carer or residential care worker. It also includes neighbours, friends who live close, the land and people around the care arrangement.
There are many options for a young person’s care arrangement. It may be with their parent or family member, a kinship or foster carer, residential care arrangement, semi-independent living or an arrangement that involves more than one type of care arrangement. It is important to involved young people in planning for their care arrangements and the supports around their physical placement. Talk with young people about what they like, what they feel like they need and where they want to be. Physical permanency needs to be tailored to the specific young person and supports put in place to meet the needs of the individual young person.
A stable care environment leads to better outcomes for children and young people in all developmental domains, including educational, social, emotional, and behavioural….This can be achieved only by reducing the number of placements a young person experiences while in care
Care arrangements: Working with young people.
Physical permanency relates to the connection a young person has with their community as well as the stability in their care arrangement. Physical permanency for young people is supported when the professionals that know that young person are stable. Professionals involved with young people may include:
- general practitioners and other specialised medical professionals
- mental health professionals
- guidance officers or career counsellors
- community health professionals or community liaison officer
- school nurses
- youth workers
Think about how you can keep these professionals involved with a young person, especially if they have a significant change in circumstances (such a move care arrangements). If the professional cannot remain involved, consider how best to ensure information is not lost and transferred to the new professional.
Young people can build their physical permanency by being involved with local community groups. Connection to community is important linked directly to the positive wellbeing for young people. Young people can be involved with their local community in numerous ways including:
- sporting groups
- dance groups
- community health clinics
- volunteer positions
Think about how to encourage and empower young people to remain engaged with the groups they are involved with. Ask curious questions to find out what interest them and who they might like to become involved with.
People from community groups often will become important people to a young person.
Legal permanency are the arrangements made to support the stability of the physical and relational permanency. Young people need to be meaningfully included in the decisions regarding the legal permanency. A young person must be appropriately informed about the different legal permanency options for them to be included in these decisions.
Think about the different legal options and how they meet the young person’s individual needs. Talk to them about their needs now and until the reach adulthood and how the legal permanency option will help them to be supported through this time.
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