Carleton University to Waive Tuition Fees for Current and Former Foster Youth

Carleton University to Waive Tuition Fees for Current and Former Foster Youth

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Danielle Treskov started this petition to Carleton University

Hello Carleton Student Services,

I am writing you this letter on behalf of students who cannot access everything that this post-secondary institution has to offer. More specifically, students who have grown up within the foster system and have aged out, and seek to receive a degree to help them attain success in adulthood.

Once a child ages out of state system care, they are not provided the necessary provisions to make sure that they have the same opportunities as their peers that grew up within a healthy home. The fact that every child has a different life circumstance should motivate educational institutions to accommodate everyone (Kmiec, P., 2021). This fact is standard knowledge, so when diverse resources are not provided, it can set up some youth to fail in adulthood. The reality is that providing access to post-secondary education for youth that were deprived of care growing up is a main element of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For example, non-discrimination is not considered when children in poverty are not able to receive the best education possible. By making this education inaccessible, it becomes discriminatory for youth who have no control over their financial circumstances (or other dimensions of their identity). Life, survival and development are then also overlooked as a result, showing that this article in the convention is constantly brushed aside (Kmiec, P., 2021). There is already such a program in place for all post-secondary institutions in British Columbia that provide a provincial tuition waiver program for students that qualify as former youth in care, where “mandatory fees charged by [an] institution could be waived so [the students] do not have to pay them” (StudentAidBC). There is a similar program in Alberta called the Tuition Waiver Program which had “participating colleges and universities in Manitoba [...] establish a fund to support current and former youth in care” (Futures Forward 2012). Along with these province-wide initiatives, there are also individual grants, scholarships and financial assistance programs at several participating universities in Ontario that have partnered with the Child Welfare Political Action Committee of Canada. These universities have created a limited number of accommodations, which has still been beneficial for many students in Ontario. A full list of these universities can be found here: 
The image above is also the representation per province in Canada of schools that support these initiatives.

The reason that the future of former foster youth is so concerning is because of the difficult and traumatic upbringing of these children. It all begins early because experiencing social toxins and lack of positive psychosocial reinforcement can lead to trauma, with long term cumulative and recurring negative effects. The earliest trauma has the worst effects on human beings, because brain structure and functioning is dependent on stimulation (Covell et. al. 2018. p. 4). Because of a recurring negative experiences in childhood and adolescence, youth in foster care have less of a chance to experience success in adulthood because of the negative development of brain functions in the most important times of their lives. Long term studies demonstrate that, besides having less disposable resources than their peers that were never institutionalized, foster youth play mental catch-up through different areas of cognitive development, showing that they are less likely to be at the same level of maturity and capability as others their age (Wade et. al. 2019). That is why they should be allowed extra accommodations to ensure that they feel accepted by institutions that their peers may enter seamlessly, to show that there is hope for former foster youth and educational institutions are willing to invest time and resources for them. 

This is why it is important to consider financial support for foster youth. This group of people have not been provided with the appropriate provisions for the majority of their lives to ensure success in adulthood, and post-secondary education is the perfect place to reframe the narrative of these young adults. By providing the financial support that many youth in state care need, it shows them that a better future is possible and supported, and will be a positive reinforcement that will benefit everyone in the long run.

Thank you for reading; we hope you will consider proposing appropriate changes in the near future,
Concerned Carleton Students


StudentAidBC. Provincial tuition waiver program.

Futuresforward. Tuition waiver program.

K. Covell, R.B. Howe, and J. C. Blokhuis. (2018). Chapter One; The Challenge of Children’s Rights for Canada. 1(2), 1-12. Wilfrid Laurier University Pres.

Wade, M., Fox, N. A., Zeanah, C. H., & Nelson, C. A. (2019). Long-term effects of institutional rearing, foster care, and brain activity on memory and executive functioning. PNAS.

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