Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Education
Father to eight boys and two girls, William Ternent has been unable to work full time due to a serious construction injury. For the past decade he has been a full-time dad to his three sons who live with him in Winnipeg’s North End.
Concerned about growing gang activity in his neighbourhood and the safety of his family, William was grateful for the summer Community School Investigators (CSI) program that made it possible for his children to continue learning throughout the summer months in a safe environment. As graduates of the CSI program, William’s sons also earned money toward opening a Registered Education Savings Program (RESP) account at Assiniboine Credit Union.
…anywhere there was a barrier, SEED helped…I haven’t lost faith.
For many parents who, like William, face the financial challenges of raising a family on a limited income, CSI funds, combined with government programs like the Canada Learning Bond and Canada Education Savings Grant can go a long way toward providing for future education, and can even stimulate children’s curiosity about their future path. William describes the impact on his boys. “Having an RESP has built their confidence and has them thinking about future education. It [RESP] has made them more serious. My son asks about his options for college. Can he go to Europe? Can he go to the States?”
SEED provides many supports for parents whose children have completed the CSI program, including providing workshops on government education-related programs, opening RESP accounts, assisting with
paperwork, and accessing necessary identification (ID) such as a Social Insurance Number and birth certificate. “When SEED started our RESP work, we found that for many parents, obtaining and paying for ID was a major barrier,” explains Jenn Bogoch, Asset Building Programs Manager. “To overcome this obstacle, SEED set up a special fund to help parents pay for ID to open RESPs for their children.”
While applying for ID is most often a straightforwardprocess, some situations can result in delays. For one of William’s sons, an error on his birth registration has meant a two-year delay. Despite the wait, William remains persistent, positive, and thankful for SEED’s assistance at every step of the process, even to the point of paying for the additional legal fees that were necessary in the case of his son. “SEED paid for the ID, and anywhere there was a barrier, SEED helped. We haven’t got it [ID] yet, but we’ll get it. I haven’t lost faith.”