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News from the field of Child and Youth Care

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Ontario: Better access to services for children and youth with special needs

Ontario is improving access to services for children and youth with special needs, with the opening of a new, modern, and centrally located Five Counties Children's Centre in Cobourg.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau and Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland – Quinte West, officially opened the new location at 800 Division St. in Cobourg this morning.

Five Counties offers a range of services for children and youth, including social work, audiology, and therapeutic recreation and has additional branches Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton and Northumberland counties.

The new location, which relocates two older Five Counties Children's Centre branches into a single, new and central location, has larger and more accessible treatment spaces, and provides a modern facility for children, youth, and families to access the care they need.

Supporting children and youth with special needs and helping them reach their full potential is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick facts

• Ontario invested $450,000 to help Five Counties Children’s Centre build a new, central treatment space, specifically designed to meet the needs of the children, youth and families.
• Five Counties helps children and youth who have physical disabilities, speech disorders and developmental co-ordination disorders.
• The province supports 21 Children’s Treatment Centres and helps more than 76,000 children and youth receive rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech language therapy.
• In 2016-17, the province invested more than $500 million for programs and services for children and youth with special needs and their families.
• Ontario’s Special Needs Strategy is helping children and youth with special needs get the services they need at home, at school, in the community and as they transition to adulthood.

28 August 2017

Ministry of Children and Youth Services 




New pilot to support disengaged young people

Associate Minister of Education Louise Upston has announced a new pilot for supporting disengaged young people which will help them to stay in education longer and achieve better outcomes in life.

“The rollout of the new model for delivering learning support will provide more accessible and flexible support to young people to help them realise their full potential. We will be piloting new local responses to better meet the needs of young people at risk of not achieving in education,” Ms Upston says.

Young people aged between 13 and 16 who are alienated from mainstream schooling often end up enrolled in alternativeeducation or activity centres.

The Ministry of Education funds schools to provide 1888 places in alternative education and 280 activity centre places across the country each year. The pilot will be carried out at five Communities of Learning to help test the model that will be made available to all schools.

Ms Upston stressed that alternative education contracts are in place until December 2018 while the pilot is underway and all young people currently in alternative education and activity centres would continue to be supported.

“Communities of Learning are ideal to test the new approaches because they have a wide variety of schooling types and some involve early learning services as well. This means we can further test the new approaches in a wider variety of settings. The presence of early learning services in many communities will allow us to further test how alternative education resources can best follow children as they move from early learning to schooling,” Ms Upston says.

“In the pilots, we will be identifying those at risk earlier in their educational pathway, connecting them with the appropriate supports, and strengthening capability to respond more quickly to the needs of students at risk of disengaging. We will also be working with schools and providers to ensure that students currently in alternative education and activity centres are getting the right learning opportunities and the right support.

“Alternative education and activity centre providers and tutors often cite a range of unmet needs that their students require support with before they can re-engage in learning, including mental health issues and dependency on drugs and alcohol. This is often too late in students’ educational pathways to take meaningful action.

“We will be engaging with the relevant national bodies to draw on their experience and expertise in delivering improved social, educational and life outcomes for disengaged young people.

“All of our young people deserve a high-quality education that sets them onto a pathway to realise their full potential and achieve educational success,” Ms Upston says.

 28 August 2017

Press Release: New Zealand Government



Ontario and Canada invest an immediate $10M to support First Nations youth health and safety

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, and the Ontario Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter issued the following statement today.

"Today, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and Ontario Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter issued the following statement regarding a joint response to the First Nations youth safety crisis in Northern Ontario:

Our governments are committed to doing all we can to ensure that First Nations students have access to a safe and supportive learning environment, regardless of where they live in the province. Currently, many students living in Northern and remote communities on NAN territory are unable to complete high school on reserve and have to leave their families and communities to obtain a secondary education. In July, NAN requested that a state of emergency be declared in response to a crisis for the safety of Indigenous youth in the city of Thunder Bay. We have heard that students and families do not feel safe leaving their communities and this has resulted in students having to choose between their education, their well-being and safety by remaining on-reserve. This is unacceptable.

NAN has developed a plan of action to respond to the student safety crisis. The Governments of Canada and Ontario are supporting that plan with a federal investment of $4.67 million annually for the coming three years and a provincial investment of $5.5 million for the 2017-18 school year to address the immediate needs of NAN students. This funding is in addition to specific funding for priority needs for these students that is already in the hands of communities for the September 2017 school year, bringing the total amount of new federal funding for students who leave their communities to $14.3 million. The goal of this funding is to ensure that students will have safe and healthy school choices in an environment that offers culturally relevant and appropriate learning in the immediate term.

Some actions being taken as a result of federal investment, in coordination with NAN will include, among others:

• Coordinated on call workers programming for students to centralize the best means to respond to and support all NAN community students in Thunder Bay.
• Increased accommodation rates to match provincial rates and access safe accommodation;
• Boarding home pilot program so that organizations who know their students can arrange for their housing needs; and
• An urban-living curriculum to talk about health, safety and succeeding in school away from home.

Some actions being taken as a result of provincial investment, in coordination with NAN will include, among others:

• Support for immediate steps to address the safety and wellness of the youth attending school away from their home communities
• Enhancing existing education options for high school students who wish to continue their education in their communities and providing additional supports for staff and students
• Ensuring resources are available to accommodate students who wish to continue their education in other urban centres.

Canada, Ontario and NAN will work in partnership to ensure efficient and effective coordination of efforts and resources to address the crisis in NAN territory during the medium and long term.

The health and safety of all students is a priority for our governments. As such, we remain committed to ensuring that First Nation students – whether they reside in urban centres or remote communities – have access to equitable education that is safe and culturally appropriate."

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation added, "Our leadership met in July to address safety concerns for our students, many of whom will attend school in Thunder Bay in September. This funding meets the short-term priorities established by our Emergency Education Task Force, and we are encouraged by the response of our provincial and federal Treaty partners for immediate action to improve safety and education outcomes for our students. This is a tremendous accomplishment in such a short period of time, and I thank everyone involved for pulling together to ensure that our students are able to pursue their education in a safe and supportive environment."

23 August 2017

Ministry of Education 




Progress on feedback and complaints systems

Minister for Children Anne Tolley says the Government is funding two new feedback and complaints systems within the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

“Budget 2017 invests $11.79 million to support the development and implementation of more effective, timely and child-centred feedback and complaints systems,” says Mrs Tolley.

“The existing complaints processes and systems are no longer fit for purpose. Our Youth Advisory Panels told us that they are complex and not easily accessible or focused on children and young people.

“We need better systems in place so children and young people can easily share their concerns and provide feedback. We also want to more effectively resolve any concerns that are raised, and ensure that insights gained are used to improve how we support and care for young people.

“A procurement process will begin shortly for a software system which will capture complaints from children and young people and Ministry staff, enabling the Ministry to analyse data and improve how services are delivered. It’s expected that the new system will be up and running in early to mid 2018.

“The Ministry will also run a full trial of the UK developed ‘Mind of My Own’ app which enables young people to express their views and provide feedback on the services they receive.

“An initial trial of the app, which ran from April to June in two Auckland sites, highlighted many examples of how young people were able to give feedback, unfiltered by adults, when they were previously reluctant or unable to do so.”

The app can be used by young people to prepare for a Family Group Conference, during a statutory visit, to raise concerns, give positive feedback, or express how they feel. Young people can use it on their own or with a social worker or caregiver.

The trial is expected to run for at least six months before being evaluated.

Minister for Children

22 August 2017

Press Release: New Zealand Government



Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill passes first reading

Mandatory registration for social workers is a step closer today with the Bill passing its first reading in Parliament, says Minister for Social Development and Minister for Children Anne Tolley.

“The Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill will help to increase the status and professionalism of social workers,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Mandatory registration will ensure that all social workers are well equipped to deal with our most vulnerable New Zealanders. We want social workers to be able to focus more on early intervention and reducing preventable harm.

"As a result of this legislation, people will know that when they’re dealing with a social worker it’s someone who has been vetted by the Police, are subject to professional ethics, and undertake annual development as a condition of their practice.

“Importantly, social workers will be accountable for their practice. There will be processes in place to address any concerns, and any social workers who have their registration cancelled will not be able to practice again.”

The Bill will amend and update the Social Workers Registration Act 2003. It will restrict the use of the term ‘social worker’ to those who have proved they have the required qualifications, skills and experience.

Other changes to support mandatory registration include:

• Streamlining competency processes as part of professional development;
• Simplifying registration processes and clarifying the process to assess a person’s fitness to practice social work;
• Requiring employers to report serious misconduct and incompetence;
• Requiring social workers to report any suspicions or beliefs based on reasonable grounds that another social worker cannot perform their required functions due to a mental or physical condition;
• Aligning the complaints and disciplinary processes with similar regulatory regimes.

Of the current 6,300 social workers in New Zealand, it’s estimated that around 2,000 are unregistered. Of this group it’s expected that nearly 60 per cent (1,200) should be able to register using their qualifications, and another 300 should be able to register using their work experience.

The costs of these changes are expected to be modest, and more registrations will mean that the cost per social worker will decrease.

To ensure a smooth transition, the majority of the changes will be implemented within a two year period, making it easier for social workers who work for smaller NGOs or in range of settings including health and education.

This shift in professionalism supports the changes underway by the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki. There are a number of initiatives to streamline processes to enable social workers to spend more time with children and young people.

17 August 2017



UK: Mental health support to be offered as part of National Citizen Service

Young people will be offered mental well-being support as part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) initiative, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.

May said training will be provided for young people taking part in NCS programmes to help them cope with exam stress, struggles at home and other challenges by raising their awareness of mental health and improving their knowledge of where to get help.

"Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that's why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me," she said.

"We know that early intervention, along with giving young people the confidence to access support, is key – that's where NCS plays such a vital role."

In tandem, the NCS will train more than 10,000 adults who work on its behalf on mental health issues. Frontline workers will likely undertake an e-learning course on basic mental health awareness while NCS programme managers will take one- or two-day course.

Work to develop the training programmes has not yet been commissioned and no date has been set for when they will be introduced. The NCS will also create a network of young graduates from its programme to champion mental health issues.

Michael Lynas, chief executive of the NCS, said: "As our country's flagship programme for 16-year-olds, we know just how important the issue of mental health is to this age group and we hope this initiative will help the next generation to live healthier and happier lives."

More than 100,000 young people are expected to take part in NCS programmes this year.

May's announcement follows the introduction in June of training for secondary school teachers and staff on how to identify and respond to the early signs of mental ill-health among pupils. The training for secondary school staff is due to be rolled out to all schools in England by 2020 and to all primary schools by 2022.

According to the Prime Minister's Office, more than half of all mental health problems start by the age of 14 and three quarters by the age of 18.

 17 August 2017



Scotland: Giving every child the best start in life, whatever their background

Parents of all babies due from Tuesday are set to receive a box filled with the very essential items mums and dads need to look after their newborns.

And while some have dismissed the Baby Box as just a nice gift for every new baby, it doesn’t just come with the best wishes of this government – it has a much more important purpose.

It is part of a series of actions this government is taking to ensure Scotland really is the best place to grow up.

That it is available to every child sends a hugely important message that all children should have the best start in life, no matter their background, and that we will support all children and parents who need our help.

Providing a box only to those on lower incomes would brand our babies with the stigma of poverty from their earliest days. That’s not the kind of society we want to be. So our Baby Box is universal.

Parents need to register for a Baby Box through their midwife, so the scheme also encourages the link with ante-natal services, promoting health and wellbeing for parents and babies and providing support for breastfeeding.

Scotland’s Baby Box has been designed by health experts who have advised on the materials to make sure they contain the items parents and babies need for their first six months. It has been tested in two pilot areas with parents whose feedback has helped to ensure parents and babies receive items that have the most impact. Items in the box include a bath and a room thermometer so families know their baby isn’t too hot or too cold, a baby wrap to promote vital skin to skin contact and a play mat and books to encourage parents in supporting their child’s early development.

Our boxes have been awarded British Safety Standard accreditation as cribs and come with guidance on how to use them as a safe sleeping place for children.

The beauty of the box though is that what goes in it will change as time goes on. We will continue to work with mums, dads and health professionals to see what else could be provided in the future.

And the Baby Box is just one part of a number of actions we are taking to support new and expectant parents and their children. Alongside the box we are expanding Family Nurse Partnerships and providing 50 per cent more health visitors – 500 in total –by the end of next year to provide intensive support to families who need it.

We are fundamentally improving and reshaping the way we deliver maternity and neonatal care, following our review of maternity and neonatal services to truly put the mother, baby and family at the centre of service planning and delivery.

From April this year all pregnant women in Scotland have had access to free vitamins to help them and their baby stay healthy and we’re increasing maternity grants – the Best Start grant – to provide additional support during those crucial first months and at key points in a young child’s development.

Every parent wants the best for their kids and evidence shows that the first few years of every child’s life is crucial – between birth and three years old is when there is the greatest opportunity for mum and dads to shape how their babies will grow and the types of people they will become.

I want to make sure we do all we can to support new mums and dads – whatever their background – through those first few, unfamiliar months of parenthood and give every child in Scotland the best start in life, whatever their background.

By Nicola Sturgeon

13 August 2017




School leavers’ toolkit to equip young people for adult life

Labour will give school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a new School Leavers’ Toolkit, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children core knowledge and learning skills. Our education system is one of the best in the world.

“However, the Future of Work Commission identified the need to do better in giving young people the practical skills that they need, in the workplace, in their day- to-day lives, and as members of the community. Businesses say they need young workers with these skills.

“Having a driving licence so you can get to work, knowing how to fit into a workplace, knowing how to manage your money, and knowing how to take your place in the community – these are all important skills in adult life, and we need to do more to ensure our young people are equipped with them.

“Labour’s School Leavers’ Toolkit will help students learn to drive, understand practical budgeting, be equipped with workplace skills, and learn how our political system operates through civics education at school. Every secondary school will be resourced to provide these courses.

“Some schools, iwi, and community groups provide this kind of education alongside the core curriculum with great results, but the approach is ad hoc and varies across the country. Labour will ensure the toolkit is available for all students.

“Our young people need a world-leading education, and the skills to live in the real world. Labour will ensure they have both. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.

14 August 2017

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party




Training, expert advice and sensory toys to make childcare accessible to all

Créches, pre-schools and childcare centres are to receive extra support to open up their services to children with disabilities.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, is confirming that resource packs will be developed which will offer centres special instruction manuals, sensory toys as well as the support of a team of experts.

Up to €4m in funding will be provided to ensure that 6,200 packs are distributed across the country.

Minister Zappone is inviting proposals to develop and distribute the packs which must include equipment and materials:

“A childcare system which truly delivers for families must be accessible to all.

Last year I was proud to unveil the new Access Inclusion Model (AIM) which supports the participation of children with disabilities in free pre-school education. Now we are building further on that work by providing special resource packs to every pre-school provider in the country.

In addition to information and advice from experts each provider will also receive sensory toys which will ensure that every child has access to play. This is in line with best international practice and the huge body of research showing play is vital for a child’s development.

I want children to benefit as soon as possible. We are now accepting proposals to provide the packs with a decision due in October and packs in services by the end of the year.

This is another important step as we transform our childcare system from being one of the most expensive in the world into one of the best.”

9 August 2017

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone




Building a modern youth justice system

The Andrews Labor Government is building a strong and stable youth justice system by recruiting more staff, providing better training and offering more targeted programs to reduce the risk of re-offending.

The Labor Government today released the first comprehensive independent review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years to help strengthen and modernise Victoria’s youth justice system.

Commissioned in mid-2016, the review – Meeting needs and reducing offending: Youth Justice review and strategy – is part of the government’s work to reform Victoria’s youth justice system for the future.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today announced an initial investment of $50 million over four years to respond to the review’s priority recommendations.

The Government accepts or accepts in principle all of the review’s 126 recommendations. The initial investment will directly address 42 of the recommendations, with work on another 63 already underway.

The investment will support:

• A new custodial operating model to better manage young people in custody
• Greater workforce capability by providing better training and a targeted recruitment campaign
• 21 additional Safety and Emergency Response Team (SERT) staff
• A new risk and needs assessment system to reduce the risk of re-offending
• Addressing Aboriginal over-representation by employing an additional Aboriginal Liaison Officer

The review builds on legislation to toughen consequences for young offenders and our record investment in youth justice, including a new fit-for-purpose youth justice facility to be built at Cherry Creek.

Ms Mikakos thanked the expert reviewers: Penny Armytage – former Corrections Commissioner and former Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation – and Professor James Ogloff AM who is Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University and Forensicare.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“This is the first comprehensive review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years. It will help us build a stronger and more effective system – after four years of neglect by the former Liberal Government.”

“This investment will make our community safer by reducing recidivism, strengthening our facilities and establishing programs that work, delivered by a better equipped workforce.”

5 August 2017

Minister for Families and Children



New Zealand: Elephant still in the room 10 years on from Nia Glassie

Family First NZ says that 10 years on from the horrific death of little Nia Glassie which shocked the nation (3 August 2007), there has been little change or improvement in child abuse statistics because we haven’t tackled the ‘elephant in the room’ – family structure, and the growth of child abuse which has accompanied a reduction in marriage rates and an increase in cohabiting and single-parent families.

“As our recent report on child abuse revealed, there are certain family structures in which children will be far more vulnerable. Suspension of fact is an abrogation of our collective responsibility to children. Children being raised by their married biological parents are by far the safest from violence – and so too are the adults. Until we recognise and develop policies around this issue, we will continue to see the shameful and tragic cases of Nia Glassie and Moko and many others in our courts,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Our stats on child abuse make depressing reading. Police stats show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since 2007, when the anti-smacking law was passed. CYF have had more than one million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found since 2007. And health data reveals a 132% increase in children diagnosed with emotional and/or behavioural problems and a 71% increase in children hospitalised with mental and behavioural disorders since 2007.

“The research results are disturbing, but not surprising. The fact that so many social indicators around the welfare of children continue to worsen proves that we simply are not tackling the real causes of child abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Our report quotes government statistics which reveal that over three quarters of children born in 2010 who had a substantiated finding of abuse by age two were born into single-parent families. The likelihood of abuse in this family type is almost nine times greater than in a non-single parent family.”

The report “Child Abuse and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us?” examined child abuse rates and changes in family structure from the early 1960s through to current day, and concluded:

• For the last fifty years, families that feature ex-nuptial births, have one or both parents absent, large numbers of siblings (especially from clustered or multiple births) and/or very young mothers have been consistently over-represented in the incidence of child abuse – similar to overseas data.

• Maori and Pacific families exhibit more of these features and have appeared disproportionately in child maltreatment statistics since earliest data analysis in 1967.

• The risk of abuse for children whose parent / caregiver had spent more than 80% of the last five years on a benefit was 38 times greater than for those with no benefit history. Most children included in a benefit appear with a single parent or caregiver.

• The high rates of single, step or blended families among Maori present a much more compelling reason for disproportionate child abuse incidence than either colonisation or unemployment, but like non-Maori, Maori children with two-parent working families have very low abuse rates.

• Asian children have disproportionately low rates of child abuse. The Asian population has the lowest proportion of single-parent families.

• The presence of biological fathers matters. Generally, it protects children from child abuse. Marriage presents the greatest likelihood that the father will remain part of an intact family.

• Compared to married parents, cohabiting parents are 4-5 times more likely to separate by the time their child is aged 5. Overseas data also shows a greater likelihood of child abuse in cohabiting families.

Family First NZ is calling on politicians and policymakers to develop policies which support marriage – including free counselling, income-splitting, removal of the marriage tax penalty, tax incentives for stable marriages – and promoting the strong formation of families and preventing the breakdown of families.

“Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labelled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognising the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research. In virtually every category that social science has measured, children and adults do better when parents get married and stay married – provided there is no presence of high conflict or violence. This is not a criticism of solo parents. It simply acknowledges the benefits of the institution of marriage,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Governments should focus on, and encourage and support what works. Our children deserve this investment in their safety and protection. Then, and only then, can we can remove the label ‘vulnerable children’ and see the end to cases like Nia Glassie.”

3 August 2017

Source: Family First




€4m in capital funding to be made available for community youth groups

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone

More than 1,500 community youth groups are set to benefit from a €4m capital fund being established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Minister Zappone is confirming that the money is being made available to allow clubs buy equipment which will support their work with young people.

Announcing the establishment of the fund, Minister Katherine Zappone added:

“Reversing the cuts of recent years for youth services is a priority for me – and this year we took a big step forward with current funding increasing by 10% to €57m. However more must be done. Today (Monday 31st July) I can confirm that money is now being made available to community based youth clubs with the establishment of a €4m capital fund.

The impact will be significant. Over 1,500 volunteer led clubs will be eligible to apply, reaching practically every community in the country. I encourage clubs to examine which sports, arts, adventure or other equipment they need the most and be ready to apply. This is an opportunity to offer our young people opportunities for creativity, recreation and adventure.

These volunteer led youth clubs translate our policies into reality on the ground. They are in the frontline providing young people with indoor and outdoor activities to prevent them falling into trouble. They also improve health, wellbeing and build team spirit.

The value of this work must never be under-estimated. It turns our policies to tackle anti-social behaviour, underage drinking and drug abuse as well as anti-obesity plans into reality. It is worthy of Government support.

The Application process for the funding is expected to open in late September. My officials will work with the local Education and Training Boards to ensure that the money can be delivered to successful applicants as soon as possible and turned into action on the ground."

31 July 2017

Department of Children and Youth Affairs


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