Group helps ‘at-risk’ students in northern Wellington

Councillor Barb Burrows sees a need for a local group working to help at-risk students stay in school.

Burrows spoke at council last week about the North Wellington Mental Health and Addictions Network.

She said the group wants to get more closely involved with local councils, to better help the people they serve. She was recently able to attend one of the meetings and returned to council with a copy of one of the groups needs assessment proposals.

“It’s a very interesting group,” she said.

Burrows explained there are various representatives of those working with kids in secondary school homes, including mental health councillors from Homewood, police officers who work in the schools, and “a very interesting representation of dedicated people.”

She noted at least one of those individuals would like to make a direct representation to council to make the team better known to the community.

She said there is a worker in Mount Forest and one at Norwell who are dealing with older students.

Burrows said those young people are 16 to 18 years old, but “at 16 you age out of Children’s Aid supervision.”

She said those individuals could be from abusive homes or face other difficult circumstances.

“These kids really want to keep going to school and have a chance at a good life. But, because there is no intervention through Children’s Aid … they are in a tough situation … and there is no financial provision for them if they leave home.

“There’s nothing … there is no housing for them, no funding,”

She explained that some are working part time at Tim Hortons, trying to go to school, and pay rent for a place to live.

“It was a very eye-opening meeting and I give these people credit for wanting to help.”

She added that those in­volved in the group want to keep in touch with with council so they can better serve the vulnerable youth

Burrows offered to go to as many meetings as she was able, to act as a liaison and bring information back to council.