On April 26, parent-teacher meetings took place at Harbour View Elementary School, as they do in countless schools all over the country. There was something very different about this one, however. As parents came in to discuss their child’s… progress in school, they also had a unique opportunity to plan for their future.
For the first time, parents had the opportunity to sign up for a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) right there at the school. In particular, children born in 2004 or later and who qualify based on their household income are eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) which deposits $500 directly into the RESP and will continue to add $100 per year until the child turns 15 as long as they continue to qualify.
This is very significant. Studies show that money put aside for education increases the likelihood of graduation and of continuing on to some form of post-secondary school.
Having members of CUA bring their work to the school eliminated one of the key barriers to entry into this program – the simple fact that many families can’t find the time to go to their local financial institution to apply in person.
The other major obstacle we identified is the requirement that a child must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to apply for and RESP. This is where Service Canada came in.
Their office was able to find the resources needed to bring their office to the school. It required some very new technology, and the time commitment of already-stretched staff, but it worked! Parents were able to bring their child’s birth certificate and within minutes were issued a SIN.
This was an innovative approach to solving a real problem and our office is very proud to have played a role. We are also extremely grateful to the school, Credit Union Atlantic, Service Canada, and the Take Action Society for the vital roles they played in this project.
We are already discussing what we learned, how we can do even better next time, and it is our hope to repeat and increase this success over the next few years in communities all over Dartmouth – Cole Harbour.