Tuition covered for Crown wards

New program will ensure that post-secondary education is covered for those leaving foster care

Children’s Services in Kingston, where Leah Woodcox received care.
Children’s Services in Kingston, where Leah Woodcox received care.

A new program will bear most of the financial burden for marginalized students looking to come to Queen’s.
The Ontario government has partnered with the University in the 100 per cent Tuition Aid for Youth Leaving Care grant, a program that will cover up to $11,000 per year in tuition and living expenses.
The grant will provide eligible students who are leaving the care of Children’s Aid, or are former Crown wards, with a maximum of $6,000 each year for tuition fees as well at $500 per month of study to help cover living costs.
The Ontario government will be covering 50 per cent of the tuition costs for these students during their time of study, while the University will cover the rest of the fees.
The program will fund roughly 500 qualifying students across 29 education institutions in Ontario.
A “Crown ward” is a child within Ontario who is now under the legal responsibility of the government. In Ontario, children 16 and under can qualify as Crown wards, according to the Canadian Child Welfare website.
Children’s Aid societies are independent organizations that investigate cases of possible neglect, and then take action to protect children who face abuse. According to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Children’s Aid can care for children, support their families, or put the child up
for adoption.
The University will fund their contribution to the program by taking a small amount of the university’s bursary money, said John Metcalfe, Queen’s
University registrar.
“Even if it’s only about 10-12 students in this category [at Queen’s], the intention is that they receive this help because they have been marginalized, and are fighting an uphill battle given their background,” Metcalfe said.
The program was created in January, in response to concerns raised by Crown ward youth that post-secondary education was financially inaccessible, said Alvin Tedjo, senior policy advisor of post-secondary education at the Ministry of Training,
Colleges and Universities.
According to Tedio, former Crown wards enroll in
post-secondary education at approximately half the rate of
their peers.
“The program helps remove a critical financial barrier for those who wish to pursue postsecondary education,” he said.
Leah Woodcox, ArtSci ’16, became a Crown ward at age eight and was immediately placed into foster care by Children’s
Aid in Kingston.
“The situation with my family wasn’t working out. And that was just the best decision [becoming a Crown ward] for both me and my mom,” she said. “A lot of kids usually don’t stay in the same home for a long period of time, but I just had a really good relationship [with mine] so I was able to stay there for 10 years.”
Woodcox received an entrance scholarship to Queen’s last year last year for exceptional grades, but financing her education was still a major concern.
“The program does not only eliminate a financial burden, it’s also easier to concentrate on the schooling in front of me and not have to worry about the financial side,” she said.
Woodcox believes that the program will not only help current students, but future ones.
“Anything that can help will not only benefit people that are in school, but it might make kids who are holding back from school more able to apply. It will sound more appealing to them,” she said.
Steve Woodman, executive director of Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington is well aware of the disadvantages that those in Children’s Aid face.
“This will be a big benefit for kids in care. They face many challenges going to university that their peers do not,” he said. “This will really help them get a great start towards a goal that we all
share — post-secondary education.”

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