Children from low-income high-risk areas who become involved with programs such as tutoring help and breakfast clubs at a young age are more likely to do better in school and less likely to commit crimes.
An extensive multi-year study by Queen’s University was based in three at-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto, Cornwall and Sudbury.
“Our main findings were that these children were doing better in school performance, had more positive outcomes in terms of their parents and had better relationships in their family,” said Ray Peters, lead researcher of the study.
“There was less use of special education, teachers were seeing the kids as more motivated to learn, and their parents perceived their neighbourhoods as a safe place to live.”
Funding was given to each community to create and organize their own in-school and after-school programs for parents and children in junior Kindergarten to Grade 2, ranging from leadership classes to after-school sports to adult ESL courses.
Researched found that the children who had access to the community programs enjoyed school more, committed less petty crime like property theft, and their parents reported being in happier relationships than the children who did not participate in the programs.
“We found that by Grade 9, there had been already a positive return in the initial investment,” he added. “There was also less use of special education, disability and welfare.”
Researchers expect similar results from findings of the children in Grade 12, set to be released in an upcoming report. The provincial initiative called Better Beginnings, Better Futures, launched in 1991.