More foster children across Windsor-Essex should be able to stay at their home school thanks to $303,000 in provincial funding.

The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society announced the funding from Ministry of Education to help keep foster students in their home school, should they need to switch foster homes.

The goal is to improve the graduation rate for at risk students, according officials from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board and the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“Having to switch schools can place a tremendous amount of stress on students, especially those who are in foster homes and possibly dealing with troubling domestic issues,” said WECDSB superintendent of education Joe Ibrahim.

“That kind of disruption can have a dramatic impact on their education, so this will be an important way for us to provide a measure of stability in their lives.”

The WECDSB received $92,400 from the ministry and the GECDSB got $211,200.

Long-term research shows when children leave foster care at 18 or 21, they’ve had at least five or six different school placements.

The barrier trying to be broken is keeping them in the same school.

The provincial graduation rate average for students in care is at about 46 per cent.

More than 400 children across Windsor-Essex are in care through CAS at any given time.

“Schools are safe and comfortable places for students and it is especially important during times of great personal upheaval,” said GECDSB superintendent of education for student well-being Sharon Pyke.

“This collaborative approach with Windsor Essex Children’s Aid Society allows our students, who are in care and having to change schools, the opportunity to continue their school experience at their familiar school. Programming services and the students’ network of teachers and peers remain the same until a natural break in the school year.”

The funding will provide school boards with the flexibility to accommodate students who would prefer to remain in their home school when there is a change in residence.

Options may include adding a bus stop to an existing bus route, or rerouting a bus if feasible; reimbursing foster parents, relatives, or other adults who can provide transportation for students; public transportation passes, depending on the age of the student; private transportation companies.

A condition of the funding is for school boards to collaborate with children’s aid societies to determine what transportation arrangement would be in the best interest of the student, when there has been a placement change, until a more natural transition can occur.

The consent and voice of the student must be a key consideration when considering their best interests.