Education and Out-of-Home Care: Highlighting the Need for Change

Prompted by alarming research findings, Allambi Care has initiated its ‘Learning Without Walls’ program in a bid to boost educational opportunities and outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care. Education Manager Parker Jackson explains:

Allambi Care experiences the disadvantage impacting children and young people in education daily. A recent snapshot of residential clients showed that an alarming 33 per cent of Allambi’s school aged population was disengaged for various reasons. Motivated by front line experience, best practice and innovation, prioritising change in education is critical within the organisation.

A report conducted by Allambi provided a clear relationship between the number of residential clients experiencing low engagement due to exemptions, suspensions, expulsions or unsuitable education placements and the current disadvantages that they are facing due to being isolated from insufficient educational support.

There is no surprise to anyone within the sector that education is a stepping stone to success in adult life. The research is there and it clearly shows the correlation between education and breaking the long term disadvantage cycle. Yet, our education system is failing children and young people in out-of-home care, the most vulnerable group yet.

It is becoming more evident that a one-size fits all approach to education for trauma affected children and young people is not the answer. This is supported by mental health and disability statistics devised by Allambi Care in an education report. It was found that 86 per cent of all school aged residential clients have a diagnosis and, more shockingly, 60 per cent have four or more diagnoses – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and an Intellectual Disability being in the top four.

Being at the forefront of this epidemic has advantages as we work alongside the youth who are directly affected. We have power to ensure that no child, is being left behind within our organisation. As a service provider that is characterised by innovation, best practice and flexibility, we proposed a solution to the highlighted problem – Learning Without Walls.

Learning Without Walls is our initiative and commitment to increasing the educational opportunities and outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care. Our structure ensures that all children and young people, no matter their educational circumstances (suspensions, exemption, chronically non-engaged) are linked to a qualified teacher that supports and works intensively with them towards the common goal of reintegration into the most appropriate educational setting, vocational pathway or connection with the community. This ensures that our most vulnerable are not isolated and are provided with the opportunity to learn, flourish and exist in a flexible education environment.

 

ACWA has embarked upon our ‘Let Them Learn’ advocacy initiative to help bring about system wide change to ensure that children and young people in care have access to appropriate education that will prepare them for life.

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