An Exploration of Residential Youths’ Views Regarding Their Education.

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Trudel, Delinda
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The purpose of this study was to hear the views of youth in care regarding their educational experiences. The academic achievement of youth in care is lower than other youth and their rate of school drop out is higher (NYICN, 2001; Vacca, 2008). Understanding the youths’ perceptions regarding their educational experiences may help to increase awareness of their learning needs and assist in developing strategies that may contribute to improving their rate of school completion. Six youth, aged 13 to 16, living at the residential facilities of the HomeBridge Youth Society in Nova Scotia participated in this study. Five of the youth were enrolled full-time in an alternative educational program, called Bridges for Learning, and one was enrolled part-time in this program and part-time in the public school system. Qualitative, phenomenological methodology was employed and individual semi-structured interviews were conducted. The main theme the youth expressed was that they wanted to be seen the same as everyone else and not treated any differently at school or in the community because they were in care. They felt that most people did not have an accurate understanding of who they were or their situations and stigmatized them because they were in care. They also believed that they had specific learning needs that were not being met in the public school system and they gave specific suggestions to address this, such as smaller class sizes, more one-on-one support, and greater flexibility with deadlines and expectations around school work. Although participants stated that they did not think they could be successful in the public school system, all of them intended to finish high school and had career plans that depended on post-secondary study.
Problem youth (institutional care) , Problem youth (education)