NSCC announces five tuition free spaces for youth formerly in care: plans to expand Post-Care Free Tuition Program

·3 min read

“I dropped out high school and thought I was completely shut out from post-secondary at that point,” Jane Kovarikova, a child rights advocate who sits on the advisory board of the Child Welfare Political Action Committee Canada, told The Journal last week after the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) announced its new Post-Care Free Tuition Program, which offers five bursaries to eligible students enrolled in the winter semester and plans to offer 10 bursaries this fall.

Kovarikova, unlike many others in this situation – 60 per cent of youth in care don’t finish high school – found her way to community college at age 18 as a mature student. Since then, she has followed an educational track she could never have imagined, as she moved from placement to placement in her youth; leading all the way to her current status as a PhD candidate.

“That’s a very different path then what happens for a lot of foster children because they aren’t aware of their options,” said Kovarikova. “We get aged out … and have very limited resources and no connections in life and no adult modeling post-secondary for you.

“Given your complicated life, it might take a long time – maybe even your whole twenties – to get things straightened out before you’re even thinking of going to post-secondary. And that is why the NSCC program is so special (there is a similar program at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax) … you can apply at any age.”

Jill Provoe, NSCC Senior Advisor for Educational Equity, told The Journal that the college became aware of the action committee’s work to promote free post-secondary education to youth formerly in care, often described as an invisible segment of society, and felt such a program fit their mandate.

“This sounds like just the sort of thing NSCC should be doing, creating these access points, these on-ramps, for Nova Scotians who need it most. As soon as we heard about this demographic, we thought ‘We need to learn more. We need to connect with the national committee, and we need to make this happen at NSCC,’” said Provoe.

The Post-Care Free Tuition Program announced by NSCC last week was created to support “those who have lived in care in the Nova Scotia child welfare system — including Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services of Nova Scotia — or have been in receipt of services through the Department of Community Services, Services for Youth Program. This bursary will be applied towards tuition costs and ancillary fees for full- or part-time learning, with an aim to help make post-secondary education more accessible for former youth in care,” states the NSCC website.

Provoe said, “This is about ensuring that this group of Nova Scotians recognizes that we want them to come in to NSCC if they are looking to open up the doors to education by coming to college. We will open up our arms to them. We want them to be successful in their program and we hope to find ways to help them successfully transition to employment…. We know how transformative education can be when it is done right.”

The NSCC Post-Care Free Tuition Program is funded through donors; donations are always welcome and will ensure the program continues and expands.

“We hope to see this program grow and grow…. For us in Nova Scotia we anticipate that there is going to be a lot of need,” said Provoe.

NSCC students can apply for the Post-Care Free Tuition Program until Jan. 29.

For more information on this program search online for NSCC post care bursary.

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal