Evidence-informed policy development and enactment: A policy content evaluation of a provincial policy for improving the educational outcomes of youth in out-of-home care in Ontario

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Shewchuk, Samantha
evidence-informed , policy , policy content evaluation , Joint Protocol for Student Achievement , partnership working agreement , child welfare , school-community partnership , out-of-home care
The dissertation explores the Joint Protocol for Student Achievement (JPSA) through a series of four interrelated papers. First, education data of 4,109 students were analyzed to understand the educational experiences of students living in out-of-home care (OHC) throughout Ontario during the year (2015–2016) the JPSA was released. Analyses revealed that students in OHC had higher short-term absentee rates, suspension and expulsion rates, special education placement, and rates of school transfers compared to their peers in the general population. Second, a scoping review of scholarly and gray literature (N=69) was conducted to uncover the common components that support partnership working between youth-serving organizations. The scoping review identified four key themes (strategic planning, institutional structures, client-level supports, and implementation and evaluation) that were further disaggregated into 16 common components which may support partnerships. Third, a jurisdictional scan was completed to identify and compare partnership working agreements between education and child welfare sectors located across Canada using the common components of partnerships uncovered during the scoping review. Including Ontario, five partnership protocols were uncovered. On average, protocols scored highly on factors related to strategic planning (80%), institutional structures (85%), and client-level supports (90%). However, protocols fell short on factors relating to implementation and evaluation (50%). Finally, interviews (N=21) were performed with education and child welfare partners in order to understand the perspectives and experiences of developing and implementing the JPSA. Analysis of the qualitative data gathered from the interviews with education and child welfare stakeholders suggest that provincial working group played a critical role in designing the JPSA provincial template. At the local level, participants found that designing regional JPSA’s helped to develop new relationships between sectors or formalize already occurring partnership practices. Issues related to information sharing, implementation, and evaluation were also uncovered. Recommendations for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers cover five key themes: (a) creation of new JPSA sections, (b) provision of implementation support, (c) development of information and data sharing structures, (b) development of capacity surrounding trauma-informed practice, (c) creation of common evaluation and performance measurement system.
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