By Halton Children’s Aid Society, Our Kids Network Protocol Partner
May 14, 2016 is Children and Youth in Care Day in Ontario.
In late March 2014, the Honourable David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, granted royal assent to Bill 53, an Act to Proclaim Children and Youth in Care Day. This Act recognizes May 14th of each year as Children and Youth in Care Day, acknowledging the enormous contributions current and former Crown and Society wards make, as well as the strength, bravery and resilience they show in the face of adversity.
Youth in and from care play an increasingly important role in influencing Child Welfare and how it works. They are involved in peer support and give advice to their Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) on projects and programs to improve the lives of all children and youth in CAS care. More and more they are also helping to change provincial policies and even laws.
In November 2011, youth in and from care shared their experiences and stories growing up as Crown wards of the Province during the Youth Leaving Care Hearings at Queen’s Park. The Hearings were the first of their kind in Canada and examined the challenges that Crown wards face when they begin to age out of care at 18.
The final report of the hearings, My REAL Life Book, identified the difficulties these young people experience growing up in care including vulnerability, isolation, unpredictability and aging out of care before they are ready. Written with the input of youth in and from care, the report called for fundamental change to better support youth as they transition from care. In fact, the creation of Children and Youth in Care day was one of the key recommendations provided in the report.
Since the Youth Leaving Care Hearings and the My REAL Life Book, youth have influenced change related to financial support, post-secondary options, and extending services to older youth and young adults. They scored an important win in 2014 with the Aftercare Benefits Initiative, which offers benefits to youth aged 21 to 25 who don’t have care through another plan.
Join us in celebrating our youth in and from care on this special day.
Above: Members of YouthSAID, a networking group run by youth, for youth. It was created in 2010 to give youth in Halton the opportunity to speak freely on their issues or concerns, and advocate for change for all youth.