19 January 2021
There are around 50,000 children and young people across Australia in out of home care and many of those will be starting school next week.
Children and young people in care tend to have lower education outcomes and more interrupted schooling than the general population. Many children and young people in care have experienced trauma which has potential impacts on their learning, and sometimes this can result in behaviours requiring much more support in an education setting. We have high aspirations for all young people and children in care and need to support them to engage with education to fulfil their potential.
Any change, such as starting a new school or even a new grade after the holidays can be challenging and there may be heightened emotions and anxiety. It is up to us to support
children and young people with a plan on how we can return to school to make the very best of the 2021 education year.
However through the support of carers, families, us and schools children and young people in
foster care can thrive.
Tips for children and young people in out of home care returning to school
Talk positively about school and teachers, have high expectations of children, recognise school achievements big and small and talk about further education options. Support them with homework, keep up to date with school newsletters and children’s friendships at school.
Arrange a visit to the school with your child/young person to meet with teachers and key
support staff, make sure they know key locations like lunch areas, toilets, bubblers, pickup and drop off places, bus routes and the canteen. Take photos and use these as prompts to keep talking to your child/young person about how is school going.
Meet with teachers and other key support staff before school starts and regularly during the year. Don’t hesitate to raise and suggest solutions to any issues.
Be prepared in the days leading up to beginning of school – re-establish morning and evening routines, plan and pack healthy lunches and snacks, get the school bag and uniform ready.
Help the school understand the impacts of trauma on learning and help your children develop a plan to ‘be OK and stay calm.’ This helps children and teachers identify what can cause children’s emotions or behaviours to escalate, what that looks like and strategies to help children regulate.