Post-Secondary Education Program

Two women and one man dressing formally with name tags at an event
Donor Noella Milne with post-secondary graduate Jeffery and his partner Hasna

Many youth in and from child welfare face multiple barriers as they work to achieve an education. If they’ve been in care and have moved from foster home to foster home, this can also mean moving from school to school, which can have a negative impact on their ability to succeed in school, mental health and confidence, and ability to form stable social connections.

Data shows that 46% of kids in care in Ontario graduate from high school, compared with 83% of their peers, and among those who do graduate from high school, enrollment in post-secondary education is 66% less than that of the general population. Low graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates lead to issues finding stable, meaningful employment later in life. Without these academic achievements, youth face significant barriers as they transition out of government care and many struggle to build successful, independent lives for themselves.

Since 1995, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada has been helping to reduce the burden of post-secondary education from youth who’ve been involved in child welfare through its Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Program. This national Program includes a variety of supports, like scholarships and bursaries, graduation awards, and funds for tutoring and supplies. The PSE Program is an integral part of our overall strategy to increase educational attainment and improve employment outcomes for youth transitioning out of care, and our mission to improve the lives of children and youth in and from child welfare.

Thanks to all of our generous individual, foundation and corporate donors – including some of our newest donors like James W. Leech and Deborah Barrett, Crux Capital, Mark Hilson, the Azrieli Foundation, and Finastra, and many supporters who have set up endowment funds for scholarships and bursaries, the PSE Program continues to grow and support more students each year.

“Young people who’ve grown up in government care face many challenges and obstacles as they shift into adulthood. We are honoured to offer some support towards their goals of achieving a university or college degree which will have a transformative impact on their future.” – Peter Aghar, President, Crux Capital

Finastra believes in supporting vulnerable young people as they pursue their education in order to help set them up for successful futures. Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Post-Secondary Education program is the right fit for our funding because it helps provide youth with a wide variety of educational supports so they can achieve their degrees and move forward into their careers.

Chuck Farmer, Knowledge Management Leader and Corporate Social Responsibility Lead for Canada, Finastra

Overall, $16.5 million has been awarded to students through more than 5,600 donor-funded scholarships, bursaries, and other awards in the program’s history.

How do we know the Program works?

In March 2018, the Foundation released a report examining the effect of the PSE Program, done in partnership with the Child Welfare Institute. Findings from the report showed that having support from the Foundation had a transformative effect on all aspects of young people’s health and well-being, making a difference in their ability to succeed in school.

Story of Impact:


“I came into care at the age of 15 and was completely unsure of my future at the time. The life I had lived was full of daily abuse and neglect, and was set to only become worse as time went on. I would like to thank you and all of the staff who worked diligently to provide for the many children you serve. I will be graduating soon with an Honors Criminology degree and I look forward to my future working in the Canadian government helping others as they have helped me. Without your support, I likely would not have been able to survive this long or even have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education and improve both my intellect and my character.” –AYDIN*, former youth in care and scholarship recipient

*Names and visual identity have been protected.