Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Education




Dr. Brenton Faubert


Grounded in a critical transformative paradigm, this case study examined how Manitoba public school principals worked to support social justice goals in education for Manitoba’s children in care. A qualitative case study methodology was used to investigate how inclusive school principals develop processes and practices to work towards improved social justice outcomes for children in care. Social justice outcomes and inclusive leadership, as it is operationalized through processes and practices in schools, comprised the study’s conceptual framework. Data were collected using document analysis of government documents, semi-structured interviews with principals/vice principals from six Winnipeg school districts, and focus groups with former youth in care. Findings based on analysis using the conceptual framework indicate that principals and vice principals do not yet have a common starting point in their understanding of how different systems, i.e., education, child welfare, and lived experiences affect the children. The complexity of the children’s experiences, e.g., trauma, transitions etc., coupled with siloed processes/practices in education and other support organizations, create misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions that lead to inappropriate programming. In response, inclusive educational leaders successfully use processes and practices to flex boundaries within the education system and intentionally built relationships with the children and interorganizational stakeholders to improve social justice outcomes for children in care. At this time, all school leaders should consider a focus on planning for intentional relationships and differentiated environments for children in care. At the provincial level, there appears to be a critical need for an interorganizational supervisory body under the umbrella of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet (HCCC) to centralize collaboration, implementation of information, and measures of success for children in care based on government protocols, while also supporting the development of a shared digital platform for the dissemination of information about what it means to be a child in care and resources to support school leaders. Further implications for policy, practice and suggestions for future study are also discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study explored strategies used by successful educational leaders (i.e., principals and vice principals) in Manitoba schools to improve the educational (i.e., academic, social-emotional) outcomes of children in care. The lives of over 10 700 children in care in Manitoba are affected by multiple systems that work in isolation and do not share information freely about the children’s needs. Children in care have a complex history of experiences that include trauma, neglect, and frequent transitions. Collectively these factors make programming and supporting this group of young people complex and difficult for educational leaders. In this study, information was collected, analyzed and interpreted from three sources. Government legislation, and policy documents were referenced to determine responsibilities outlined for educational leaders as they support children in care. Educational leaders, who participated in interviews, recognized and understood challenges caused by the systems involved and wanted to improve outcomes for children in care. Former youth in care participated in two focus groups and shared their views of educational leaders’ programs and actions of support in schools. The different kinds of data were separately analyzed for themes and then combined to look for patterns and differences in participants’ understanding and interpretation. The results demonstrated that educational leaders used government documents to outline their administrative work with children in care. However, they did not find these documents helpful for supporting/programming for children in care. Initially, educational leaders did not have enough information about the children’s lives or how different systems outside education work to support children in care. The lack of information and misunderstandings about the lives of children in care was the biggest barriers for both groups of participants. To inform themselves and to break down barriers for children in care, educational leaders used formal/informal strategies to change the educational environment, and developed interorganizational relationships to improve outcomes for children in care. Recommendations include better strategies for interorganizational collaboration, development of a central site for collection/sharing information and resources about children in care, and development of an interorganizational working group of representatives to help monitor the children’s success.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.