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News from the field of Child and Youth Care

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Free prescription drug coverage coming for Ontario youth and children

Free prescription drug coverage is coming to Ontario for everyone age 24 and under – regardless of family income.

The new pharmacare plan, officially titled OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, was announced on Thursday as Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the provincial Liberal’s budget. “On behalf of our premier, starting this January we will be expanding our universal health care by providing free drug care for everyone age 24 and under,” Sousa announced as he presented the budget.

According to the new plan, eligible Ontarians will be able to walk into any pharmacy across the province, show their OHIP card and pick up free medicine funded through the Ontario Drug Benefit Program. The plan will cover 4,400 types of drugs. As well, there will be no deductible and no co-payment.

Sousa said the plan will help students and “make life more affordable to Ontario families.”

“One way we can be a competitive and a compassionate society is to make sure that people who need medications get medication,” he said. Souza added that the changing nature of the workplace means many Ontarians don’t have workplace benefits. For families with children requiring medication, for young people just entering the workforce who may be working on contract, causing real hardship for some,” he explained. “We can do better than that. We must do better than that.”

The program will benefit around four million Ontarians and cost $465 million. That price tag is expected to be funded by the growing economy. According to the Liberals, the GDP is expected to grow 2.6 per cent.

When asked if the province has the money for afford a plan of this size, Sousa was steadfast.

“We can afford it and that’s why we put it in our budget. Keep in mind that even with those who have plans – they still have co-pays and deductibles,” he said. “We felt that we don’t put a price on our kids and we wanted everyone to have the same benefits.”

The program will be the first of its kind in Canada and Sousa said he hopes the move encourages the federal government to look at a universal Pharmacare plan.

“I’m just very proud of our cabinet and our premier for looking at this in such a progressive way,” he explained.

Pharmacare will be implemented January 2018. 

26 April 2017




Victoria: New training and support for kinship and foster carers

For the first time foster carers and kinship carers will join to undergo comprehensive training to better support the children they care for.

The Andrews Labor Government is developing an integrated training program which will address issues such as trauma informed care, how to manage difficult behaviours and de-escalation techniques.

Carer KaFÉ; Kinship and Foster care Education will improve and expand kinship and foster carer knowledge by providing access to face-to-face training, online learning, accredited training opportunities and conference attendance sponsorship.

Carer KaFÉ also focuses on ensuring the needs and interests of Aboriginal children are met and that carers can provide culturally supportive and appropriate care.

This program also helps carers form close relationships with other carers experiencing many of the same issues.

It’s part of the Government’s $19.2 million funding boost for foster, kinship and permanent carers.

We know how important these carers are – that’s why we are taking these steps to give them new tools and support, including a new peer support strategy for kinship carers in Victoria.

The money will also be used for flexible grants for local initiatives to support kinship carer wellbeing and camps for kinship carers and the children in their care.

Improved training and support for carers is part of the Government’s landmark $168 million Roadmap for Reform agenda to shift the child protection sector from crisis response to prevention and early intervention by meeting the needs of vulnerable families and children.

Carer KaFÉ is a collaboration between the Labor Government, Foster Care Association Victoria, Kinship Carers Victoria, Centre for Excellence, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance.

For more information on Care KaFÉ or to access the training please visit:

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“Our carers are the unsung heroes of our community, and it’s crucial they have access to the best training, support and resources.”

“These are vital investments in helping carers – and most importantly – helping the children they care for.”

Minister for Families and Children

21 April 2017



New Zealand: Hotel no place for children in care

Revelations today that a young person under the care of the Ministry For Vulnerable Children was placed in a hotel is just plain wrong – and it isn’t a one-off, says Labour’s spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern.

“This was an issue we raised six months ago, that the Minister could and should have started working on as soon as she knew it was happening.

“I heard in October last year that children in care were being placed in hotels, so I went directly to the Minister to find out if it was true.

“The Minister refused to give me numbers, saying it would take too much time to collate. She also claimed hotels and motels were ‘only ever used as a placement option for young people in exceptional circumstances’ and were a ‘temporary measure only’.

“The case detailed in the media today totally contradicts the Minister’s claims. The young person in this case was told he could be there up to a month – that is not temporary.

“To also place a young person, who has such high mental health needs, in such a vulnerable situation seems unfathomable.

“The Minister also claimed that ‘all children and young people have an adult assigned to supervise them whilst in transit’ but in this case, that supervision seems to have been via phone.

“This is not a case of blaming the social workers involved – I have no doubt that they will only want the best for the children in their care. But what kind of situation have we left them, and children in, if a hotel is the best that a child with such high needs can hope for?

“Reorganising CYFs into a new ministry is one thing, but unless we have the resources and support in place for our foster carers, respite placements and decent residential facilities, we aren’t making any child’s or family’s life any better,” says Jacinda Ardern.

21 April 2017



New Mexico leads in supporting system-involved youth, implementing ESSA

After passing two new bills in January and February of this year, state legislators say New Mexico is leading the way in ensuring educational stability for students who have been affected by homelessness and the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Bolstered by the involvement of young people with experience within these systems, the two bills signed by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will provide significant support for students who are in the state’s care and reiterates the importance of recently signed federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Championed by state Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs) and state Representatives Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces) and Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque), both bills articulate supports necessary to aid system-involved youth in achieving academic success. Senate Bill (SB) 213/House Bill (HB) 301 gives priority placement in graduation requirement courses to students who face disruption in their education due to transfer and states that a student must have equal access to participation in extracurricular activities, special programs and services to which they are entitled. HB 411 assists in the state’s implementation of ESSA by appointing a person of contact (POC) for foster and juvenile justice youth and a required “educational decision maker” for cases with youth alleged to have been abused or neglected.

Gallegos said in a press release, “I’m proud that New Mexico is first in the nation to provide these rights to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. By creating a point of contact in each district, the state will better fulfill its responsibility to these students, including helping them succeed in school, graduate, and become engaged in their education.”

At any given time in New Mexico, there are more than 35,000 children who are homeless or involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems and struggle with disruptions to their education. Frequent moves can result in missing course credits and threaten a student’s ability to graduate on time.

“Many of these students who do not have stable home environments, change schools multiple times in a single school year and are more likely to drop out of high school. By easing these transitions, we can improve graduation rates and the future prospects for these students,” Kernan said in a press release.

By Sable Locci

18 April 2017



Ireland: “Youth Guarantee Report challenges government to do much better” says leading youth organisation

The EU Youth Guarantee, which aims to ensure all young people receive a quality offer of a job education or training within 4 months of becoming unemployed, still has a long way to go to demonstrate real and clear added value for young people according to Youth Work Ireland. The group was reacting to the publication of a European Court of Auditors report on the operation of the scheme across Europe. The organisation, many of whose members provide employment and training projects for young people, believes immense improvements could be made to the reach and success of the Guarantee if youth organisations had a greater role in delivering it. This is particularly the case for hard to reach young people who still do not get the full benefit of the spending. The Report by the EU’s financial watchdog found that that the scheme had a limited effect and failed to reach initial expectations

“The EU Youth Guarantee has been a welcome initiative as the EU has prioritised the labour market situation of young people more than our national government. This report on the operation of the guarantee shows there are many issues to address. There are clearly data problems with the documentation showing there are no identifiable outcomes for many young people from participation. The engagement and reach to the most disadvantaged remains an issue and we see this in our work. The systematic involvement of youth organisations particularly those who work with the most disadvantaged young people from the outset could have offered a lot to the programme. The delivery of the guarantee is rooted far too much in the traditional institutions of often failed labour market interventions. Youth organisation need to be more central to its delivery from here on.” Said Michael McLoughlin of Youth Work Ireland.

“While there have been improvements in the field of youth unemployment recently the figures still remain stark and are undoubtedly “improved” by huge increases in emigration. It is now clear that the days of austerity are over and the Government is faced with a relatively positive budgetary situation. In order to restore some of the damage done during the recession youth employment, education and training must be a priority. The Youth Guarantee offers a good opportunity with some funding attached to really make a lasting impact on this issue but the Irish Government needs to make a big effort to be innovative in getting to the most hard to reach. Clearly a renewed commitment to young people and youth unemployment in the field of education and training related to the Youth Guarantee should be a cornerstone of Irelands approach to the structural funds and the European Social Fund in particular. In our view plans agreed with the European Commission in this regard fell well short of the ambition needed” Mr. McLoughlin added

5 April 2017

Press Release
Youth Work Ireland



Canada, B.C. and the First Nations Leadership Council sign Reconciliation Charter committing to the care of First Nations children and youth

The health and well-being of Indigenous children is a top priority for the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council. Together we are taking action to help ensure that children receive the health and social services they need, when they need it.

The Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council have signed a Reconciliation Charter to formalize their commitment to work together to reduce the number of First Nations children in care, to keep families together and support First Nations youth to successfully transition out of care.

The Charter further establishes a joint working group including representatives from all three groups to focus on concrete actions such as legislative reform, policy and program development, and creating an effective fiscal model to support First Nations child welfare in British Columbia. By signing the Charter, the parties have also committed to sustained and measurable progress and to support First Nations to govern their own children and families using approaches grounded in their own cultures and traditions.


“I am proud that we are now able to formalize the tripartite process through which the Government of Canada will work with the First Nations Leadership Council and the Province of British Columbia on our shared goal of improving the wellbeing of Indigenous families and children. Together we will focus on community-led approaches to reducing the numbers of children in care by ensuring timely access to the supports and services they need."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“We need to act now, as equal partners with First Nations and the federal government, to change the way we approach child welfare. This charter is the next step towards realizing our shared goals of improving outcomes for Indigenous children, youth and families in British Columbia and reducing the number of Indigenous children coming into care.”

The Honourable Stephanie Cadieux
Minister of Children and Family Development, Province of British Columbia

“This Charter is about shared responsibility and cooperation among all of us to improve Aboriginal child and family well-being. I want to commend the many chiefs and child welfare workers across the province who are steadfast advocates for the children and families they represent. Ultimately, the Reconciliation Charter is a commitment to all First Nations communities in British Columbia.”

The Honourable John Rustad,
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Province of British Columbia

“This Charter is an important commitment by all parties to work together to fix a broken system and effect real transformative change resulting in improving the lives of First Nations children in BC. Our expectation is that the Charter will lead to an aggressive, culturally appropriate workplan that will directly support First Nations jurisdiction and self-government and address the over representation of First Nations children in care in BC.”

Cheryl Casimer, Political Executive Member
First Nations Summit

“The BC Assembly of First Nations is committed to advocating and advancing First Nations rights and interests related to child welfare, and the Reconciliation Charter is reflective of those principles. This significant step forward demonstrates the parties’ commitment towards the continued need for active and purposeful reconciliation between the Crown and First Nations in relation to children and families. We will continue to engage our partners to ensure a better future for our communities and children and youth."

Chief Maureen Chapman, A/Regional Chief
BC Assembly of First Nations

“The acid test of the Charter is in whether First Nations children, youth and families can finally be treated with the rights and dignity of all children and our children and families are supported to stay together. First Nations communities must drive the change, with their own jurisdiction and as the Representative for Children and Youth in BC recently noted, this will require Canada and British Columbia to provide equitable and flexible resources directly to First Nations families and communities."

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Quick facts

• This Charter is an extension of the partnership between Canada, the FNLC and British Columbia, who signed an agreement in March 2017 to improve supports and increase investments for First Nations children, youth and families in B.C.

•The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and provides a forum for First Nations in B.C. to address issues of common concern.

10 April 2017
Vancouver, B.C. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada




Outspoken child advocate to lead national forum to discuss diverity, bias and the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children

Child advocate Anton Blank is voicing his concern about the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

As lead keynote speaker at Oranui’s Indigenous Diversity Forum on 5 May at Te Papa, Mr Blank will open the day by explaining why the Ministry for Vulnerable Children makes no sense from a social policy perspective.

“The Ministry is a poorly planned response to New Zealand’s very high rates of child abuse,” he recently told TV3’s The Project. “Over 70% of young people in the Ministry’s youth justice residences are Maori. This is hugely disproportionate and evidence of unconscious bias in the system.”

The inaugural forum will focus on exploring how New Zealand transitions from biculturalism to multi-culturalism.

“This will be a seminal discussion at a critical point in our cultural development. Thought leaders from literature, the media, public health and racism education will present their theses.

“Increasing population diversity in New Zealand challenges a national identity which until now has been premised on biculturalism,” Mr Blank says.

“A new diversity is most visible in Auckland, which is now one of the world's most culturally diverse cities. It has the fourth most foreign-born population of any city in the world.”

The premise for the forum emerged out the 2016 report Unconscious Bias and Education: a comparative study of Maori and African American students, written by Mr Blank, Dr Carla Houkamau and Dr Hautahi Kingi.

“The study showed how teachers’ attitudes towards students impacts student outcomes. Teachers have low expectations of Maori students. This is mirrored in Maori educational achievement that lags behind other groups.

“Dr Houkamau and I have now written REWIRE: the little book about bias, due to be launched at the forum. It explores bias as a human behaviour, and provides a framework for managing bias at the inter-personal level.”

Press Release: Oranui Diversity Leadership

 10 April 2017

About Oranui and Anton Blank
Oranui is focused on generating debate about diversity and giving people skills to deal with a diverse range of population groups. Anton Blank is a child advocate, project manager, communications consultant and publisher based in Auckland. Working across a portfolio of projects Anton has a special interest in indigenous children’s issues and indigenous literature. Anton has over 30 years’ experience in social work, communications, social marketing and leadership.



Supporting success for youth across Ontario

Ontario is supporting new opportunities for youth across the province to connect with mentors, learn new skills and achieve success.

Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, made the announcement today at the Youth Action Network in Toronto. The centre's MyStand project is receiving support through Ontario's Youth Opportunities Fund to connect at-risk youth in the Greater Toronto Area with mentors and offer specialized workshops to help them develop new skills such as financial literacy, set and work toward goals and learn about healthy relationships.

A total of 41 projects across the province are receiving support this year in communities including, Akwesasne, Cambridge, Hamilton, Kenora, Kingsville, Lake Temagami, M'chigeeng, Nestor Falls, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thames Valley, Thunder Bay and Toronto.

Projects include:

• Skills training programs in film and media, digital literacy, costume design and the trades
• English language classes for newcomers
• Health promotions programs, including mental health support and creative therapy
• Sports and recreation programs to help youth stay active, build networks of friends and mentors
• Programs specially designed for Indigenous, racialized, newcomer and LGBTTQ youth
• Civic engagement opportunities, as part of Ontario150

Increasing supports and skill-building opportunities for children and youth in communities across the province is part of Ontario's plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick facts

• The 41 projects will be receiving more than $12 million this year from Ontario's Youth Opportunities Fund, and will be delivered by grassroots, youth-led, community-based organizations.
• Since its launch in 2013, the Youth Opportunities Fund has provided approximately $17 million to 74 community groups benefitting over 115,000 youth.
• Grants are awarded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation based on how well projects address desired outcomes in Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed.
• The Youth Opportunities Fund is part of the province's $55-million enhanced Ontario Youth Action Plan, Ontario's largest investment to date to help children and youth in high-priority communities across the province.
• Under the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, the Youth Opportunities Fund will be increased by $1 million annually to support grassroots projects focused on skills development programming.
• The application period for next year’s grants will launch this summer.


“Partnering with local grassroots groups, our government is committed to supporting projects that make a difference in the lives of youth across the province. These groups know and understand the needs of youth in their community and how best to help them achieve great success.”

Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services

“It has been a year of expansion for the Youth Opportunities Fund and this announcement is a direct reflection of all the hard work the team and our Grant Review Committees do to ensure great projects are funded. It’s inspiring to see such a wide-range of excellent, youth-led organizations and initiatives with fresh ideas. Projects for youth by youth are important in addressing the issues facing this diverse and ever-changing population.”

Janet Yale, Board Chair, Ontario Trillium Foundation

“Engaging and empowering today’s youth is a key driver in Ontario150 programming and, to underscore that commitment, Ontario is putting $1M behind the Youth Opportunities Fund. As we celebrate our sesquicentennial, we are also laying the groundwork for a successful future by investing in our next generation of leaders. This program is one of many that will help us achieve that goal.”

Eleanor McMahon, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

“The MyStand mentorship initiative aims to tackle the lack of positive mentor relationships and positive social reinforcement facing racialized youth. We are thankful to the Ministry and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for helping bring vital resources to help MyStand play a key role in the development of GTA youth. Along with our organizational mentor, Youth Action Network, we look forward to making an impact at a critical point in their lives.”

Mustafa El-Amin, Creator, MyStand

5 April 2017

Ministry of Children and Youth Services



California: Temporary county jobs offer former foster youth pathway to employment

Employment outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care are less than hopeful, but the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is looking to a new pilot program to change that.

A California study found former foster youth to be 56 percent less likely than their low-income counterparts to be employed at age 24. For this population, finding employment is crucial.

“Finding good full-time employment is a key factor in reducing the pipeline from foster care into homelessness,” said Wende Nichols-Julien, CEO at Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles.

Half of youth in foster care who age out of the system end up homeless or incarcerated. Nichols-Julien said that to support these young people they need, “employers specifically seeking to hire, train and retain former foster youth.”

On February 14th of this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors moved to expand such opportunities with the Temporary Services Registry pilot project. Proposed by supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, the pilot project creates a registry that connects residents facing barriers to employment to clerical service jobs in county departments. The pilot requires 51 percent of program participants to be “target workers” – 25 percent of which must be current or former foster youth.

In order to reach these populations, the registry will be piloted where target workers already receive services: the Departments of Public Social Services, Children and Family Services, Mental Health and Child Support Services.

This targeted approach is necessary for foster youth who are rarely connected to employment and often unfamiliar with appropriate workforce practices and professional behavior.

John Patrick Clancy, employment development specialist at Hillsides’ Youth Moving On transitional housing program in Pasadena, Calfi., works to support former foster and probation youth as they transition into adulthood. According to Clancy, barriers to employment go beyond lack of exposure.

“Many times these kids have been bounced around from home to home – probation to parole, with promises made that weren’t kept,” Clancy said. “They get the idea these systems are not to be trusted.” He added that children with undocumented parents are even more hesitant to seek supportive services. This presents a potential challenge to the program in reaching its target population.

For those open to working within a county department, the Board of Supervisors hopes the registry will provide valuable work experience and a path to long-term employment with the county or elsewhere. Furthermore, the program’s architects hope that by hiring the very populations these departments serve the county will improve the way it serves the community.

Clancy suggests success of the pilot program will depend on the depth of the training. Rather than simply finding foster youth a job, programs should be “working with people from A to Z to develop soft skills and practical job skills,” he said.

The 24-month pilot project is set to begin in April of this year. After two years the program will be evaluated based on the rate of participant retention and level of career advancement.

By Gabrielle Tilley

31 March 2017



Ireland: Zappone acts to end sentencing of children to adult facilities from midnight

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has announced that with effect from midnight tonight (Thurs 30th March), all young males under the age of 18 who are sentenced to a period of detention by the courts will be sent to Oberstown rather than to the adult prison system. Such young people are currently sentenced to St Patrick’s Institution.

Minister Zappone stated:

“I am very pleased to announce that the Oberstown campus will commence taking 17 year old males who receive a sentence to a period of detention from midnight.

This is the final step to end the detention of children in adult prison facilities. Unfortunately, there is always a need for a small number of young people to be detained, and it is best that this is in facilities which have a focus on addressing the needs of these young people as well as their offending behaviour”.

Minister Zappone noted that this measure follows on from previous initiatives that have already been taken with regard to the detention of children during the previous Government’s term of office, and builds on the policy approach commenced by the Tanaiste, Minister Fitzgerald as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

“Substantial progress has been made in this area in recent years and I am delighted to end the practice of detaining children in adult prisons. The enactment of the Children (Amendment) Act 2015, on-going recruitment campaigns and the capital development programme in Oberstown have led to this historic moment in our youth justice system.

"Putting children in prisons where they share facilities and encounter adults is unacceptable in a modern society. This has been recognised by international bodies which have encouraged Ireland to take this step.

"I wish to thank the staff and management of Oberstown for their cooperation with a significant programme of change in the delivery of what is a challenging but essential public service.”

30 March 2017


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