Research shows Flint arts program significantly boosts foster children's academic scores

It is about the painting, dancing, writing, creating … and so much more. 
 
A program at Ennis Center for Children is winning new attention after a university study showed marked improvement in a wide range of assessments for children in the program. 
 
Fostering Creativity is a free therapeutic arts program for foster children that features a variety of artistic classes, local artists and art therapists.
 
And, it is showing a little creativity can go a long way. 
 
In fact, children in the program showed improved academic performance, better attendance, and fewer disciplinary problems—according to a recently released three-year evaluation conducted by Kathy Woehrle, a member of Central Michigan University’s social work faculty.
 
The key to the program’s success is providing a safe space to learn new skills, gain confidence, and overcome challenges as well as allow for healthy emotional expression, Woehrle said.
 
“There was the intention that the creative experiences would provide the children some degree of stability and some degree of opportunity for self-reflection and self-expression that typically isn’t available to children in foster care,” she said. “Just offering kids in poverty situations some opportunities for creative expression levels the playing field, so to speak, with children who live in more stable environments.”
 
Established in 2014, Fostering Creativity has served more than 100 children in Flint. Funding for the Fostering Creativity program is provided through the Ruth Mott Foundation, The Hagerman Foundation, The Flynn Foundation, The Bernard J. and Camille Cebelak Foundation, and the Ticket to Dream Foundation. 
 
Based on its success, the program now is being expanded to the Ennis Center’s location in Pontiac. 
 
The Ennis Center for Children operates in four locations statewide and has worked with abused and/or neglected children for nearly 40 years. Its services reach more than 3,500 Michigan children and families in crisis annually.
 
The Ennis Center for Children in Flint is located at 129 East Third Street. For more information, visit www.enniscenter.org.

Read more articles by Reyna Hurand.

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