2Why is Education a Priority? Success in school is one of the critical factors for quality of life for youth and adultsYoung people in OOHC are disadvantaged by poor educational achievementAcademic failure is linked to adolescent crime, suicide ideation, early pregnancy, depression, unemployment, homelessness and ill healthThe Life, Learning and Achievement Toolkit has been developed to focus attention on the practices that support educational and employment achievement for young people in out of home care.Research has shown that school success is critical to a high quality life in both childhood and adulthood. Children in the child welfare system typically: do not function well in school (Avery 1998)There are some obvious reasons for the low level of educational performance. Children will often have had educational problems before reaching public care.Research findings on the school experience and educational achievements of young people in out of home care paints a bleak picture. The disrupting experience of entry into out of home care, and the factors that necessitate entry into care, contribute to frequent absences from school, frequent change in school placements, and more behavioural and learning problems than average (Avery 1998; Berridge 2007; Crawford and Tilbury 2007; Hayden 2005).Links have been demonstrated between academic failure, including poor reading ability, and adolescent crime (Christie and Yell 2008) youth suicide ideation (Daniel, Walsh, Goldston, Arnold, Reboussin and Wood 2006) early pregnancy, depression (Farrugia, Greenberger, Chen and Heckhausen 2006), unemployment, homelessness and ill health (Hunt 2000; Richardson and Lelliott 2003).In general, young people leaving out of home care find it difficult to negotiate the transition to independent adult life. Their experiences, particularly in the early stages of transition, are worse than those of other young people (Courtney and Dworsky 2006).For longer workshop sessions: Discussion questions “What is our experience of the educational achievements and challenges of young people in our programs?”
3Supporting EducationIf education is a priority, young people are more likely to achieve their learning goals and make a successful transition to adult lifeSupporting the education of looked-after children provides them with one of the most reliable means of escape from disadvantageEducational achievement provides the “single most significant measure” of the effectiveness of the OOHC systemSupporting education is one of the most important aspects of OOHC serviceResearchers have concluded that supporting education for children and young people in out of home care is one of the most important aspects of out of home care service provision (Attar-Schwartz 2009; Crawford and Tilbury 2007; Gallagher, Brannan, Jones, Westwood 2004; Gilligan 2007; Goddard 2000). Jackson (2007) suggests that educational achievement for young people in care provides “the single most significant measure” of the effectiveness of the out of home care system.
4Learning A key strategy in effective Out of Home Care Safe, stable place to liveNurturing and well resourced environmentPhysical and mental healthLearningSocialSafetySocial and emotional developmentRelationshipsResilienceSelf awareness and controlIn their review of the evidence on education for young people in out of home care, Crawford and Tilbury (2007) conclude that education should be a focal point of out of home care activity that is integrated into all aspects of service delivery.Education and employmentLife skills and interestsAcademic socializationLearningA key strategy in effective Out of Home Care
5Education is more than school A wide range of learning activities support development e.g.Employment and volunteeringLeisure, hobbies and friendsIndependent living programsIncidental ‘life skills’ learningIndependent study and homeworkIn this context, education is not restricted to activities that take place in school. Education includes extracurricular activities, friendships, vocational and life skills (Gallagher et al 2004). Learning activities that occur outside the school, such as leisure activities and work experience, have been shown to enhance resilience, improve persistence at school and contribute to successful transition to independent adult life (Gilligan 2000; Maclean 2004). The definition of education and learning used in this toolkit takes a holistic view of the young person (Petrie 2007) and encompasses a wide range of learning activities that support overall development: school, other educational placements, employment, leisure activities, independent living programs and the informal development of life skills.
6Factors for Education Achievement Placement StabilityAccess to Education ProgramsAccurate, transferrable Education RecordsMonitoring of outcomesAdvocacy for individual young peopleCollaboration between the agencies involved in supporting learningSome young people in out of home care do achieve at school, maintain good mental health and go on to higher education (Richardson and Lelliott 2003). Protective factors that contribute to this experience of success include many of the general service priorities of out of home care: affectionate relationships and attachment, good living conditions, stable routines and boundaries and continuity of care (Richardson and Lelliott 2003). Zetlin, Weinberg and Shea (2006) identified six major factors that specifically contribute to education achievement for young people in out of home care: (Slide)To ensure that this happens, an organisation must have strategies and resources in place to encourage and enable young people to participate in education (McDowall 2008).
7Building Educational Success Learning Achievemente.g. readingSupportModelEngageResourceSupport: The young person has access to professional support and external services to meet their specific needsEngage: Small scale activities matched to young people’s interests and skills are used to engage them in learninge.g. Remedial reading classe.g. Reading or vocabulary building games on the computerThe evidence suggests that it is possible to effectively support education and learning for young people in care using everyday activities and resources (Hunt 2000; Vera Institute of Justice 2003). The actions of frontline workers and carers can have a significant impact on young people’s experience of learning (Hunt 2000).Education support strategies require a coordinated range of activities that encompass demonstrating the importance of learning (modelling and mentoring), providing adequate resources to support learning, engaging young people in small scale activities that build on their strengths and interests and supporting access to formal education.Resource: The living environment is equipped with the resources required to learnModel: Staff, carers, mentors and peer leaders demonstrate desired behaviourse.g. Staff are seen to read and frequently discuss things learned from their readinge.g. Books, quiet area for reading, library card
8Education is resourced Service strategies support Education Education is talked aboutEducation is resourcedService strategies support EducationStaff trained to support EducationYoung people are engaged in EducationOutcomes are evaluated and acted onEducation is a PriorityYoung people achieve learning goalsImproved life experiencesYear 12 retentionAverage or above gradesFurther education enrolmentWork experienceIndependent living skillsThe evidence leads to a simple theory of change. If education is a priority – that is, education is an acknowledged, resourced, supported and evaluated activity of out of home care – then young people are more likely to achieve their learning goals and make a successful transition to adult life.EmploymentFinancial independenceSocial integrationHome ownershipHealth and well being
9If Education is a Priority then... It is acknowledged in policy and procedureResourced as a key activityPlanned and evaluatedIncluded in job descriptions and trainingClearly documentedObservable in daily activitiesIf education and learning are priority activities within out of home care then it should be possible to observe this: (Slide)
10Evidence Based Practice Standards The Life, Learning and Achievement Toolkit is based on the available evidence of ‘what works’ to help young people in OOHCPractices are grouped into the following areas:Access and ParticipationLearning SupportInformal and Leisure Learning OpportunitiesLearning CultureSelf RelianceThe Life, Learning and Achievement Toolkit is based on the available evidence of “what works” to help young people in Out of Home Care. The emphasis in the literature review was on practical strategies that are within the scope of service organisations and out of home care staff.The evidence is compelling in its consistency – nationally, internationally and over a long period of time, some practices have been consistently identified as positive contributors to education success. For ease of reference these are grouped together in the toolkit into five ‘Standards’. The Standards are interactive and practices may cover aspects of several standards at once.
11Access and Participation Young people have access to and are able to participate in appropriate education and employmentPlacement stability – and stability of educational placement and leisure activitiesMonitoring attendanceShared information with education providersCareer counselling for young people in Year 9 and aboveActivities that lead to recognised qualificationsThe goal for access and participation is to ensure that the young person has an appropriate learning program available to them and that they are able to participatePlacement stability – refers not only to the family or residential placement but to stability in learning activities. Staying at the same school; or continuing to learn the same subjects; staying with the same club, sport or leisure activities; maintaining a relationship with the same mentor or tutor – continuity in any of these areas helps to promote feelings of safety and personal identity.Monitoring attendance – helping young people to monitor their own attendance and take responsibility for their participation in learning or employment; recognising when factors in our own practices are contributing to absence from school (e.g. Health care or assessment appointments made during school hours); having information to share with the school about attendance so that they can work with you to support participation – which leads to the next point...Share as much information as you can with the school. They need to know how to build on the young person’s strengths and enable them to achieve their bestGet professional help to inform young people of their choices and motivate them to aspire to further education and challenging employment; use internet career resources to work with the young person yourself so that they understand their opportunities and the consequences of their education choicesCompleting Year 12 has become an expectation for most young people in Australia. Employers and adult education programs look for this as an indicator of ability. For young people who cannot be in main stream schooling and get a Higher School Certificate or equivalent, look for learning activities that will get them some form of recognition. This could include distance learning courses from TAFE or private education providers in key employment skills such as IT; it could also include references from casual or voluntary work. Think outside the box of school education to identify job ready skills: a first aid certificate, a drivers licence, computer skills are all very employable skills.For longer workshop sessions: Discussion question “What are we doing at the moment to support access and participation?”
12Learning SupportFormal education is supported collaboratively through a range of activities and servicesCollaboration with other education providersAppointing an education advocateAttending every possible event at schoolResources for homework and independent studyPersonal support and monitoring of homeworkThe goal is to support what is happening in the formal school programIn supporting education you are not working on your own – teachers, tutors, counsellors, mentors, carers, birth family members are all potentially part of the learning support team. Work collaboratively together to plan and review activities and share information and ideasMake sure that each young person has one person who has the main responsibility for advocating for their education. This is the person who will have most contact with schools and employers. The more you engage in positive contact (as opposed to fielding complaints) with the school or other education program, the more likely the young person is to engage effectively with the schoolFind out what the young person needs to help them study. This may include a quiet place, computer, books, desk. It may also include implementing strategies to help them plan and monitor their own homework and assignment activitiesOther forms of support, such as homework clubs, tutors and mentors are discussed in the Standard “Learning Culture” but are an important part of providing support for formal educationFor longer workshop sessions: Discussion question “What are we doing at the moment to provide learning support?”
13Informal Learning Opportunities Young people have an opportunity to develop their interests, social and life skills in a diverse range of activitiesHelping young people to develop and pursue leisureCasual, part time and voluntary employmentIndependent living skills trainingHolistic projects to develop life skillsThe goal is to ensure that the young person has a variety of leisure activities that they have chosen for themselves to express their interests and identityHelp young people who have not had choices before to identify what they are interested in. Encourage short term trials of activities; read about activities; help the young person to talk to someone who engages in the activity; identify their strengths and match this with possible activitiesWhere possible, young people aged 15 and over should be engaged in some form of employment; ideally, the employment will provide learning opportunities and complement schooling rather than replacing it; look for on-job training opportunitiesYoung people aged 15 and over benefit from participation in formal Independent Living Skills training; plan participation in training with the young person and select skills that they are interested in and motivated to learnDevelop projects at home or in the local community that replicate real life situations; keep them fun and achievable; projects can be tailored for individuals or can be an opportunity for peer support and the development of group skillsFor longer workshop sessions: Discussion question “What are we doing at the moment to support informal learning?”
14Learning CultureThe young person’s living and leisure environment provides continuous learning supportGetting adults involved and supporting learningMentorsTutorsCarers, youth workers, case workersBirth familyEncouragement and praiseTraining for workers and carersThe goal is to develop a living environment that continuously supports learning. Learning is integrated into everyday activities; the people supporting the young person all talk about and support learning as a high priority; learning and achievement and recognised and celebratedYoung people thrive when they have adults who are interested in them and are able to provide encouragement and practical support for their learningMentor relationships occur informally as young people identify and build relationships with adults in their environment; for young people who do not clearly have an informal mentor, appoint a mentorBirth family can play an important role – either positive or negative – in influencing the young person’s aspirations and attitudes towards learning. As far as possible, birth family should be kept informed of the young person’s learning and achievements, encouraged to talk about these and provide support, engaged in celebrations of success etc.All adults in the young person’s environment have a role to play in encouraging learning – recognising the small achievements along the way to bigger successesSupporting learning isn’t always easy; training may be required to help workers and carers engage with the education system and communicate positive learning messages to young peopleFor longer workshop sessions: Discussion question “What are we doing at the moment to promote a learning culture?”
15Self RelianceYoung people are supported to actively participate in and direct their educationA strengths approach, building resilienceIndividual learning plansProjects that build the experience of achievementAttributing success to abilityCommunicating high expectations; encouraging high aspirationsYoung people will learn if they are motivated to do so. Working with the young person, building on their interests, dreams and motivation increases the probability of learning successMotivation has been identified as a significant factor in healing and personal development (Laursen 2004). Aspiration for higher education directly influences a young person’s persistence in education and their development of foundational skills such as reading (Shin 2003). Most young people who succeed after leaving care attribute their success, in part, to their own motivation (Crawford and Tilbury 2007; Jackson and Ajayi 2007)Encouraging young people to have high expectations has been identified as a positive strategy to support learning (Vera Institute of Justice 2003).A starting point for raising young people’s aspirations is simply to talk to them about further education and career development (Goddard 2000). Encouraging young people to think about who they might become can be a powerful motivator (Horstmanshof and Zimitat 2004).For longer workshop sessions: Discussion question “What are we doing at the moment to involve young people in planning their own learning?”
16Motivated Independent Living AutonomyAspirationAchievementMotivated Independent LivingThe ability to make choices, act on interests, determine goals, exert a level of control over outcomesIdeas about the future self; career and education goalsSuccess in areas of learning reinforcing self-efficacy, interest and motivationHelping a young person to develop the ability to make choices, solve problemsHelping a young person to set goals and think about the future in a positive wayHelping a young person to recognise their own strengths and see their achievementsAll adds up to motivation for a successful independent adult lifeGetting Ready for Independent Living
17Problem Solving Together Talk about learning and careers regularlySet new challenges in projects, leisure and daily livingBreak information into manageable blocksHelp the young person to distance themselves and consider what is happeningListen to the young person’s side of the storyAdmit your own ignorance and ask “How could we find out?”Young people in out of home care may not have developed the skills that underpin self determination, such as setting goals (Shilts, Horowitz and Townsend 2004), making choices (Comfort 2007) or identifying their personal strengths (Deering 2005). Guided goal setting, small choices and strengths assessment may contribute to the development of the abstract reasoning skills and the self confidence to plan for the future.You don’t have to be good at problem solving or able to do everything yourself. You can use your own limitations to help the young person see that it is OK to not be good at everything and that they can still achieve. Use the times when you don’t know what to do next to engage the young person in mutual problem solving.
18The Life, Learning and Achievement Toolkit Audit PracticeEvidence Based Standards for Service DeliveryEvidence Based Standards for Service ManagementQuick Records Audit ChecklistImprove PracticeEducation Learning ReviewEmployment Learning ReviewLife Skills AssessmentLife Skills Project AssessmentKeep a RecordEducation & Life Skills ProfileCheck ProgressAnnual Data Collection ToolOrganisation ToolsEvidence Based Service StandardsEvidence Informed Service Management ChecklistThese tools are intended to be used by managers and coordinators of out of home care programs, focusing attention on the way the organisation emphasizes and supports learning as a key outcome area for out of home care.Keeping Track: Records and Data Collection ToolsQuick Records Audit ChecklistEducation and Learning ProfileAnnual Data CollectionThese tools focus on the development of clear records of each individual young person’s learning experience and achievements, and collectively of the progress of young people in a particular program. They are intended to be used by case workers, coordinators, education workers and researchers.Working with Young People: Practice ToolsEducation Learning ReviewEmployment Learning ReviewLife Skills AssessmentLife Skills Project AssessmentThese tools are designed to assist case workers, youth workers, carers and mentors to talk to young people about their strengths and learning, and to work with them to identify and record their strengths and goals.
19Selecting Tools for the Job: 1 If you already have your own approach to supporting Education or if you have not considered Education as a priority before try:Reviewing your policy and procedures with the Evidence Based Standards for Service DeliveryReviewing your program support activities with the Evidence Informed Standards for Service ManagementChecking your client records with the Quick Records Audit ChecklistThe Life, Learning and Achievement Toolkit has been developed to focus attention on the practices that support educational and employment achievement for young people in out of home care.The Toolkit is made up of a variety of assessment tools to support audit, practice development, documentation and evaluation. Some tools are intended to be used by managers for the development of programs, while others are intended to meet the needs of frontline workers and carers working collaboratively with young people.No one tool will suite all situations; therefore this toolkit provides a range of related tools to choose from. If you are considering using the Toolkit, it is suggested that you start with the three audit tools: Practice Standards, Organisation Audit, and Education Record Audit which will help you to identify the tools that will best meet your needs.For short introductory session: find each tool in the toolkitFor longer workshop sessions: find each tool, read the content and discuss how it might be used. For shorter tools, such as the Standards for Service Management and the Quick Records Audit Checklist, the tool may be used in a demonstration activity
20Selecting Tools for the Job: 2 If you can see opportunities to improve record keeping by introducing tools try:Education and Life Skills Profile will ensure that young people have a full and transferrable record of their learning experienceAnnual Data Collection Tool will ensure that the program or organisation has an overall picture of what is happening in education and learningFor short introductory session: find each tool in the toolkitFor longer workshop sessions: find each tool, read the content and discuss how it might be used. For shorter tools, such as the Annual Data Collection Tool, the tool may be used in a demonstration activity
21Selecting Tools for the Job: 3 If you can see opportunities to improve daily practice to emphasize the importance of learning try:Education Learning Review will help you to have regular conversations with young people about their learning experienceEmployment Learning Review does the same thing for young people who are in employmentLife Skills Assessment will help you to engage young people in thinking about independent living skills and identifying their strengths and needsLife Skills Project Assessment will help you to record and discuss the work related strengths that young people demonstrate in projects and daily lifeFor short introductory session: find each tool in the toolkitFor longer workshop sessions: find each tool, read the content and discuss how it might be used. If time permits, participants may complete a Life Skills Assessment for themselves
22Embedding practice in policy The tools may be used individually but are designed to be used togetherOnce you have selected tools it is helpful to apply them consistently and then review them after a set period of timeTools are more likely to be used consistently if they are supported by policy and procedurePeople using the tools for the first time will require training
23Measuring SuccessIf you use one or more of the tools in this toolkit, measure the impact that this has on the young person and on yourselfSet some general standards to measure performance. Use the Annual Data Collection ToolMonitor school reports: how is learning performance, attendance and general feedback changing over timeProvide feedback to Centacare Broken Bay – have the tools helped? Have you changed and improved the tools? What outcomes are you observing?
24Next Steps firstname.lastname@example.org Questions or Feedback?Contact: Centacare Broken BayWhat are the next steps to focus on education and learning for young people in out of home care?For longer workshop sessions: develop an action checklist or plan for implementing one or more tools