Another new school year under the cloud of the pandemic

Youth success
August 17, 2021 •  By Centraide
rentrée scolaire - pandémie

Reports from Montreal Hooked on School, a close partner of Centraide of Greater Montreal, clearly show that the pandemic has had significant negative impacts on young people’s motivation and commitment to their studies. 

Community agencies supported by Centraide of Greater Montreal are reorganizing accordingly. Many supports have been put in place to help students catch up and overcome the lack of organization and motivation that has slowly but surely taken hold over the past two years.  

To aid in this effort, Centraide has invested over $15.7 million in 2020-2021 throughout 160 agencies to support youth success. In addition, the Youth Project allowed us to inject an additional $1.5 million in 56 agencies at the peak of the crisis. In the spring, new investments went into targeted support efforts through projects with School-Family-Community officers, particularly in Anjou and Montréal-Nord. 

The Importance od School-Family-Community (SFC) officers

In its guide to developing an SFC action plan, the Centre de transfert pour la réussite éducative du Québec (CTREQ) raises a key point:

“[…] school is not culturally neutral. It reproduces the main values and mentalities of the dominant social classes. A gap can therefore exist between the practices of the school and those of families from disadvantaged backgrounds (in terms of language, physical attitudes, relationship to time, etc.), which often leads to the social exclusion of these families. Precarious economic conditions and a lack of academic resources make it hard for these families to meet the requirements of the school institution. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to reproduce the family culture, which serves to perpetuate the gap between this culture and the school culture. These students are therefore more likely to experience school problems, which can affect their academic perseverance and success.” 

These findings stress the importance of School-Family-Community officers, who build bridges between disadvantaged families and the school environment so that young people experiencing problems can access the resources they need. 

A project that is getting results

Over the past few years, the School-Family-Community project has been implemented in several Montreal neighbourhoods. The results have been so conclusive that they have led to the expansion of the project to all schools in the East End of Montreal. Two agencies are the main carriers of the project: Accueil aux immigrants de l’Est de Montréal and the YMCA du Québec.   

In Anjou, in order to further facilitate the connection with the most vulnerable families and to improve the intervention, the Centre Humanitaire d’Organisation de Ressources et de Références d’Anjou (CHORRA) has created a position for an educational support officer. 

This person is responsible for liaising between primary and secondary schools and immigrant families. The goal is to not only encourage the academic success of these young people but also help them integrate into their new environment, which has been particularly difficult during the pandemic. 

Coup de pouce jeunesse

In Montréal-Nord, Coup de pouce jeunesse is the agency implementing this system. Centraide’s support has let them add a new resource in the form of its first School-Family-Community officer at the two high schools in Montréal-Nord, Calixa-Lavallée and Henri-Bourassa..

This officer provides personalized support to families experiencing problems by getting parents involved in their child’s school life. It refers families to local resources based on needs and helps them understand the Quebec school system.  

In 2020, the peer helper program at École Calixa-Lavallée received the Solidaires de Centraide award in the NextGen category.

The agency also offers a variety of activities and projects :

  • Through Pairs-aidants, Secondary 2, 3, 4, and 5 students support Secondary 1 students and young people in special education classes or welcome classes to help them integrate academically and socially. 
  • Under the supervision of a counsellor, the Club réussite gets youth volunteers from Coup de pouce jeunesse to help elementary students with their studies and support them during recreational workshops. 
  • Entr’Âge offers intergenerational activities for teens and seniors.  
  • As part of the Place à l’entraide project, teen volunteers get support from a counsellor to lead fun sports activities for young residents at Habitations Place Normandie.