Improving Outcomes for Children in Care: A Collaborative Approach
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Manitoba has the highest rates of children in care throughout all of the child welfare system in Canada. Manitoba’s children in care are one of our most vulnerable populations, who rely on the systems and adults within their lives to provide adequate support to ensure positive life outcomes. Unfortunately, the outcomes for children in care in Manitoba are abysmal. One key statistic that needs immediate attention is the graduation rates of Manitoba’s children in care – only about 1/3 of these children will graduate from high school (Government of Manitoba, 2016a.) School counsellors in Manitoba are teachers with specialized training in mental health and wellbeing and are well-positioned to work in collaboration with child welfare social workers who serve as the guardians to children in care in Manitoba. Using a phenomenological qualitative approach, this study is based on interviews conducted with three Manitoba school counsellors who work with students in Winnipeg, Manitoba. School counsellors were interviewed individually and asked about their experiences and perceptions in relation to working with children in care and in collaboration with CFS social workers. Data analysis explored the experiences and key themes of Manitoba school counsellors working to improve the educational and life outcomes of children in care. Key findings included the necessity of and call for regular, intentional and ongoing communication between Manitoba school counsellors and CFS social workers, the desire for changes to policies and practices between Manitoba school counsellors and CFS social workers, and the overall need to address issues related to the funding and staffing of both Manitoba’s Education and CFS.
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