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College taking care of students who grew up in the foster care system

Northern College is a participant in something President Audrey Penner considers “innovative access”.

It’s providing support, including full tuition, housing and food costs to students who are or have been in “extended society care”. That’s what we used to know as foster care or being a Crown ward.

Penner says some of them grow up without the necessary encouragement and support to go to college. They often feel abandoned and that the cards are stacked against them.

“It’s really hard,” she remarks. “They don’t necessarily believe in themselves and all they need is someone to believe in them, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

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The project is in conjunction with the organization known as The Child Welfare Political Action Committee. Penner says it’s difficult to gauge the need because the data isn’t clear.  So the college is working with several community agencies.

“And we’re starting to think now of working with people that have not yet aged out – maybe they’re in Grade 10 or Grade 11 – to start that support network a little bit sooner.”

Right now, two students have been “adopted” by the college. Penner is hopeful of expanding to 20 across all of its campuses.

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