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Athabasca University

WRaP Project

The Wellness, Resilience and Partnership Project: Relational Supports for Youth with FASD in Alberta Schools.

LogoIn a hospital in Alberta today, a child will be born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This child will present with a cluster of birth defects caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. The cluster will include physiological, developmental and central nervous system anomalies.  The less overt but troubling effects that will most interfere with this child’s success at school will include challenges with attention, memory, emotional regulation, problem solving, abstract thinking, social interactions, impulse control and judgment. The damage alcohol imposes on the developing fetus is not reversible at this time and this little baby with FASD will struggle with the tyranny of prenatal alcohol exposure all of his or her life.

Fortunately for the child born in Alberta today with FASD there are supports and services available thanks to the implementation of a provincial strategic plan designed to make it easier for people affected by FASD to get the help they need at any point during their lives.   In addition to a number of other initiatives, financial support from the FASD Cross Ministry Committee allowed for the establishment of relational supports for youth with FASD in Alberta Schools.   The Wellness, Resilience and Partnership (WRaP) project, since its inception in 2009, has provided a continuum of supports and services for junior and senior high students with FASD.  Services are coordinated and provided by on site youth coaches who work with students, in collaboration with school counsellors, family-school liaison workers, parents or caregivers, administrators, teachers, learning coaches and community partners, to:

  • Maximize school engagement
  • Increase academic success
  • Enhance social, emotional and physical well being.
WRAP Tools and Activity In eight years the WRaP project has resulted in success for a targeted vulnerable student population. Over a number of years, longitudinal data indicate that youths participating in the project achieve goals established in three critical areas: academic achievement, school engagement and social emotional well-being.   In the 2015-16 school year, for example, of the 254 youth with FASD followed in the province, 90 percent or more had successfully completed academic courses in the four core academic areas (language arts, mathematics, science and social studies).  Eighty-two percent of this same population received no out of school suspensions and none were expelled. Ninety-seven percent of parents/caregivers had been in contact with a youth success coach and eighty-nine percent of parents/caregivers indicated they were actively involved in developing plans for their youth with the success coach.  Eighty percent to the youth with FASD reported that they liked themselves and had friends at school.  Among the youth with FASD connected with WRaP success coaches, there have been no suicides, long term hospitalizations or incarcerations and very few students have left school early.

The key variable in the realization of success for this vulnerable adolescent student population is the relational support provided by success coaches working directly with students and staff in schools.  Specifically coaches provide targeted instruction for vulnerable populations, routinely check in with youth, assist students with attaining healthy living objectives and personal goals, leverage technology for learning, coach and reinforce the use of adaptive life skills and encourage students to engage with school tasks and persist when academic or social expectations are difficult.  Coaches facilitate opportunities for staff, parents and students to learn about FASD and school administrators and teachers look to on site coaches for support when identified students present with needs throughout the school day. Certainly caring teachers and principals want to help vulnerable children and youth but the are very occupied in schools with their professional responsibility to engage in the ongoing analysis, decision making and implementation required to ensure optimum learning by all students attending schools in Alberta ( Teaching Quality Standard, Ministerial Order #016/97).  The youth success coaches are trained to work with youth with complex needs and also have flexibility in their schedules during the school day to provide the responsive continuum of supports and services students with FASD require to be successful.  Coaches also help youth with FASD with achieving healthy living goals in the community and at home by facilitating ongoing, positive communications and collaborations with parents or caregivers, employers, community and recreation leaders and service providers.    The project coordinator has developed and sustained a strong community of practice among the success coaches and technology has been leveraged to ensure coaches meet and problem solve collectively once a week. A wealth of tools to support school learning teams, families, students and coaches have been developed and are available on the WRaP websiteA WRaP app  and a learning series, Supporting Students with FASD have also been developed.

With the vision and support of the FASD Cross Ministry Committee, relational supports for vulnerable youth in Alberta Schools have been enhanced in the last eight years.  During this time of transition, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the students, their families, the success coaches and all of the project partners who have supported brighter outcomes for youth with FASD through the WRaP project. Specifically thanks must be extended to:

  • Alberta Education, Supports for Children and Youth Branch and Field Services
  • Alberta and Edmonton Regional Learning Consortia
  • Alberta Human Services, FASD Cross Ministry Committee
  • Aspen View Public School Division
  • Edmonton Public Schools
  • Elk Island Public Schools
  • FASD Networks and Diagnostic Clinics
  • Fort McMurray Catholic Schools
  • Fort McMurray Public Schools
  • Foothills School Division
  • Grant MacEwan University, Child and Youth Care program
  • Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools
  • High Prairie School Division
  • Holy Family Catholic Schools
  • Holy Spirit Catholic Schools
  • Pembina School Division
  • Saint Paul Regional School Division
  • Sturgeon School Division
  • The University of Alberta, Department of Educational Psychology

Submitted by
Colleen McClure
Home Study Tutor:  Educational Psychology 389 and 470

Updated March 09 2017 by Student & Academic Services

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