Canadian University is Reaching Out to Foster Kids

McMaster University wants to help kids from foster care to get degrees.

Mar 8, 2021
Canadian University is Reaching Out to Foster Kids | McMaster University wants to help kids from foster care to get degrees.

Hamilton is a Canadian port city rich in conservation areas and picturesque waterfalls. But right next to the city’s Royal Botanical Gardens is a historic university with a heart of gold and a vision.

Wanting to give a helping hand to current and former foster kids, it is waiving tuition fees for a set number of current or former foster children, among the most vulnerable members of society.

The Child Welfare Political Action Committee Canada (Child Welfare PAC), a group advocating for young people who have been through foster care, is partnering with McMaster University on this initiative.

Its founder, Jane Korvarikova, was herself raised in foster care since she was six years old. In our video, she describes the extra obstacles that she and other foster kids share just growing up. These usually include moving home and school multiple times, higher school drop-out rates, and a much slimmer chance of making it to higher education at all.

“I don’t think we should be leaving it to luck. I think it needs to be a policy where the pathway to post-secondary [education] is as smooth as it can possibly be and I’m so proud of McMaster for taking this step and doing that,” she told Canada’s CBS News.

And for Korvarikova, the icing on the cake is that there are no age restrictions. McMaster’s innovation recognizes that after foster care ends at around age 18, foster kids are headed to a challenging life as young adults. It is likely to take them longer than average to find their feet and be ready to embark on and afford to study for a degree. She is pleased that more universities are becoming more sensitive to the needs of former foster kids.

This extra help can mean allocating staff to help former foster kids through the application process and potentially awkward questions about family, their right to privacy, and dorms that stay open year-round.

Several studies highlight that foster kids face disadvantages, and could benefit from more affirmative action to boost their success. The authors of the first UK study of young people in care who go to university, from 2020, explain that it’s still an exceptional achievement for kids in care more broadly to become university students. They put the most optimistic official estimates at six percent of children in care, as compared to 39 percent of the general school population.

McMaster University President, David Farrar, says “Increasing learning opportunities and removing barriers to education for students is core to McMaster’s Access Strategy,” adding that removing the financial barrier will enrich the university’s community with new and diverse voices, as reported on Global News.

Those responding in talkbacks to an article on this initiative, include mom of two and a former foster child, Desiree Stanlick. She writes about her interest in this program, adding that she “Would like to set a positive example for my children as well as all children and former foster children that we can accomplish anything and not to give up.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.