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Supporting Students in Out of Home Care

Partnering with the Raising Expectations program delivered by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW) with one of their university partners, La Trobe University, we developed a webinar designed for welfare staff, teachers, coordinators and other school staff to learn more about supporting this student group. Presentations were made by:

  • Joanna Humphries, Manager, Raising Expectations Program, a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Federation University Australia, La Trobe University and Swinburne Institute of Technology

  • Naomi Tootell, Senior Research Officer, Centre for Higher Education, Equity and Diversity Research at La Trobe University, and

  • Care leaver students (who had formerly lived in care): Claire and Marcelle.

Each speaker provided excellent information and answered questions during the Q and A at the end of the webinar.

Joanna provided an overview of the Raising Expectations program and the barriers and challenges for young people who live in Out of Home Care (OOHC) to participate in tertiary education. She explained how teachers, other supporters and students can access the program and the services and supports available to students – personal, academic and financial - to help them access, continue and complete their studies. The main goal of the program is to support young people in care and care leavers to aspire, access and succeed at university.

Also explained was where teachers and supporters of young people in care can go for more information and other services to support young people, as well as providing advice and guidance to teachers, students and carers directly.

Naomi spoke about the supports available at La Trobe University, as well as the other universities involved which include:

  • Targeted care leaver bursaries and/or scholarships

  • Dedicated support coordinators and

  • Special Consideration for Care Leaver status when applying for university entrance through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) and the Special Entry Access Scheme (SEAS).

La Trobe University also offers a schools outreach program to schools in low socio-economic areas within their catchment aimed at increasing university aspiration and awareness as well as tailored programs with flexible learning schools to facilitate pathways to university.

Marcelle and Claire are two remarkable young women at different stages of their lives who share a similar background of family upheaval and found themselves growing up in OoHC. Both are studying at La Trobe University. Marcelle is in her first year and spoke of the experiences and people who helped or hindered her pathway to school completion and university.

Claire has forged a successful career and was able to explain what strengths, experiences and supports helped her on her journey to maximise her potential.

Both Claire and Marcelle’s presentations provided a visual illustration of their lives speaking to some key questions that influenced their education journey. They included:

  • What was most important in supporting your aspirations for post-secondary study and your career?

  • Who was your biggest influence in pursuing post-secondary study and career?

  • What were your biggest barriers to post-secondary education (TAFE and University) and how did you overcome them?

  • What drives you?

  • What would be your message to your 16 or 18-year-old self?

  • What would be your message(s) to young people in care about future possibilities - study and career?

  • How can we motivate young people who are disengaging or have disengaged from school?

  • What needs to change to encourage and support more young people in care to: pursue TAFE and University and dream big and follow those dreams?

  • What is your current job and what are your plans for the future?

We were very pleased with the positive reviews and feedback from the wide range of professionals attending the webinar, including staff from the Navigator program, LOOKOUT Education Support Centres, school social workers, school and private practice psychologists among the 65 attendees.

A video of webinar is available on the City LLEN You Tube Channel. Follow this link

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