While there are over 63,000 children and youth living in permanent care with foster families, group homes, or in kinship care across Canada, people aged or aging out of the foster care system, continue to be one of the most underrepresented groups when in it comes to financial support for post-secondary education. There are very few bursaries and scholarships targeted towards this demographic, which receive relatively little support once they exit the foster care system. The financial burden of post-secondary school is often too great for those in care or aged out of foster care to overcome, which is why for every 1,000 youths in Canadian foster care, only eight go on to graduate with a post-secondary education.
The financial struggle of post-secondary education is felt particularly strongly by Indigenous people, who continue to be massively overrepresented in the Canadian foster care system. Census data from 2016 shows that Indigenous children and youth aged 0 to 14 make up 7.7% of all Canadian children and they represent over 52% of children and youth in foster care. In recent years, there has been a call for greater cultural competency amongst social workers and administers so that better methods can be used to assess Indigenous families. The hope is that this will lead to a reduced number of Indigenous children and youth being taken from their homes unnecessarily.
Another major issue that children and youth in care face, after they age out of care, is gaining access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. There is a significant relationship between adult homelessness and a history of living in foster care. A Raising the Roof study from 2009 with street-involved youth found that 43% of survey respondents had also been in foster care. Research has shown that adults with a bachelor’s degree earn over $1 million more during their careers compared to workers with a high school diploma alone. Statistically, this puts former foster children and youth in care at a severe disadvantage, as they are significantly less likely to pursue post-secondary education compared to their peers.
To help address the overwhelming lack of financial aid support that foster children and youth in care receive, Storwell Self Storage decided to create the Storwell Foster Children Bursary Program. Storwell has been providing affordable self-storage units for over 20 years and is devoted to giving back to the community through various charities and social initiatives. This bursary is an annual award of $2,000 to help those in and aged out of foster care pursue post-secondary education. Eligibility requirements and access to the application form can be found at: https://www.storwell.com/bursary-application
- Applicants must have been in foster care with an official Canadian or American foster care program and agree to having the above organization verify the same
- Be enrolled as a full-time student at a recognized general/vocational College or post-secondary institution in Canada or USA as of September of the year that they apply
- Be a Canadian or American Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Be 24 years of age or less at the time of application
- Bursary recipient must agree to having their name, photo and post-secondary institution displayed on the Storwell website