Administration headquarters for Central Okanagan Public Schools located in Kelowna. (File photo)

Kelowna Foundry, school district partner on Indigenous student support initiative

Central Okanagan Public Schools administration looks to expand Indigenous youth program

Creating partnerships with community service groups is one way Central Okanagan Public Schools has sought to support student learning and well-being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

School district staff is looking for the board of education to extend support for one of those partnerships initiated last summer with Foundry Kelowna, a wellness service centre for young people aged 12 to 24 and their families.

In a report to the education and student services committee, school district administration identified a concern for middle school students who did not qualify for children and youth mental health support but who would benefit from “prevention support.”

Last June, district staff assembled a list of students who could benefit from additional mental health clinician support, and Kelowna Foundry agreed to provide those enhanced clinician services to those students, funded by $7,825 from the Operating Holdback Carryover initiative.

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As part of the BC Recovery Plan, $43.6 million of one-time funding was provided this fall to support efforts to address the learning impacts of the pandemic, health and safety, and mental health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $43.6 million consists of $25.6 million in new funding and $18 million of unallocated operating funding (holdback) from the 2021-21 school year.

The holdback funding can be used to address the learning impacts due to the pandemic and was allocated on a proportional basis to school districts.

Funds that were not spent during the 2020-21 school year could be carried forward and used for the same purpose in the 2021-22 school year.

Fifteen students identified by the school district took part in the program, with each student categorizing it as a good experience and felt comfortable returning, according to the staff report.

Overall, in addition to those students, the Foundry reported 40 new clients registered between the ages of 12 and 15 while the summer visits of clients aged 12 to 15 were 156.

The board of education will now consider a recommendation to expand the partnership with the Foundry on this program during this school year and into next summer.

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