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Province increasing accountability and child-centred care
Ontario is working to help children and youth across the province
reach their full potential by introducing legislation to strengthen and
modernize child and youth services.
Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau introduced the Child, Youth and Family Services Act this afternoon in the legislature. The bill, if passed, would put children at the centre of decision-making, support more accountable, responsive and accessible child and youth services and strengthen oversight for children's aid societies and licensed residential services by:
In addition to the legislation, Ontario plans to boost accountability across the child welfare system by requiring children's aid societies to publicly post financial audits and expenses. The province will also explore the option of creating a single adoption agency for the entire province, helping more children find stable and supportive permanent homes.
New initiatives from the province will also support better outcomes for Black children and youth, including the mandatory collection of identity-based data, including race-based data, to support better service planning and delivery, as well as the implementation of the One Vision One Voice plan in children's aid societies.
Supporting children and youth 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.
8 December 2016
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
StreetSmart SA, an organisation dedicated to helping street children rebuild their lives through donations from restaurants in the Western Cape, Garden Route and Gauteng, has handed over R50 000 to their Pretoria beneficiary, PEN – Streetwise, for 2017. This is part of an allocation of over R1 million raised nationally for the third consecutive year by StreetSmart SA with the balance to be distributed in the other regions later this month.
PEN – Streetwise engages with boys living on the street and other
vulnerable children in Pretoria, to support them in restoring their
dignity and hope for their future. Most of the youth comes from
traumatic circumstances and PEN assists them to restore their emotional
well-being and establish their independence and reintegration into
The StreetSmart funds will be used towards the payment of the social worker salary.
There are currently 7 restaurants in Pretoria that have embraced StreetSmart’s vision to make a real difference to the lives of street children. Funds are raised by adding a R5 donation to each table’s bill at participating restaurants. This donation is voluntary and diners are able to contribute more if they wish to. Al Fiume @ River Place, Chapters and Hemingway’s @ Leriba Hotel & Spa, Orange Restaurant @ Court Classique, Pride of India, Prosopa and Ritrovo, offer their diners the opportunity to give responsibly in their restaurants, and not in the hands of a child.
“StreetSmart, through the work of our beneficiaries, provides opportunities to empower street children and other vulnerable children in our communities to live viable lives. Through the generosity of our restaurant partners and other supporters we are able to continue to expand our national footprint. For the third time in a row, StreetSmart will be disbursing over R1 million to beneficiaries nationally. We are so excited to be able to continue this work through responsible giving via StreetSmart restaurants.” says Melanie Burke, Chairman of StreetSmart SA.
“At PEN we believe in moving our children from dependency to dignity. Our partnership with StreetSmart enables PEN to take ‘broken’ children off the street and give them more than just a safe space to call home. We give them an opportunity to grow into boys who are well rounded, socially well integrated, have access to education, and help them to dream again.”
StreetSmart Restaurateurs and their diners are taking hands to make a difference in their communities. Nationally this partnership with 92 restaurants has raised more than R1 060 000 during 2016, for organisations that are actively involved with social development and rehabilitation of street children with the ultimate goal of family re-unification.
“There is a special feeling you get when you give someone a gift, and if that someone is less privileged, then the feeling is amplified exponentially,” says Dino Fagas, owner, Prosopa Restaurant.
StreetSmart SA was set up in 2005 by a group of concerned Capetonians under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and comprises resourceful board members representing business and the hospitality and tourism industries. Similar StreetSmart organisations also run independently in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA – San Francisco and The Netherlands.
StreetSmart SA is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation as well as a Non-profit Organisation and ensures that every cent donated by diners goes towards social and educational upliftment projects for street children. StreetSmart’s goal is to be part of the process of social normalisation and to encourage the public not to give money into the hands of a child as this keeps them on the streets. In essence, eating and donating at a StreetSmart restaurant is the responsible way to help a street child.
16 January 2017
Magistrates have added their voice to fears that measures in the Children and Social Work Bill to allow councils to opt out of children's legislation will undermine the rights of vulnerable young people.
The controversial measures were thrown out by members of the House of Lords last year but amended proposals have been drafted by government and could be re-introduced to the bill imminently, with MPs meeting to discuss the legislation this week.
Ahead of today's committee stage hearing of the bill, the Magistrates Association has announced it shares concerns raised by Lords and the Together for Children group, a coalition of around 40 children's organisations, that allowing councils to opt out of legislation may leave looked-after children more vulnerable.
In a statement the association said that despite amendments made by the government to the opt-out plans, "there remain considerable concerns."
"The association echoes the comments in the Lords that nothing can be more important than the safeguarding and protection of children, especially those who are at greatest risk or are the most vulnerable.
"The association understands the protections afforded to children, and the legislation under which these can be found, to be an interdependent body of work, with a connected and cohesive nature. This would be at risk in light of potential exemptions.
"Those on the front line of children's social care services have not identified the provisions provided in the new clause as necessary, and point to the flexibility already afforded under the current system."
In particular, the association believes the measures could undermine recommendations made in the Laming Review into children in care's involvement in the justice system to tackle their "disproportionate criminalisation".
Magistrates say fulfilling this recommendation would require "more consistent support, early intervention and joint working within children's social care and services", all of which could be affected if councils are allowed to opt out of children's law.
The statement adds that: "It is concerning that the proposed changes may limit the consistent and full implementation of recommendations in that review."
Magistrates also share Together for Children and Lords concerns that the exemption plans have not been properly evidenced.
"The association supports arguments that any such clause should only be implemented on the strongest evidence that such fundamental changes respond to an identified need and are in the best interests of children.
"The association would encourage the government to source independent research on the validity and need for these provisions before introducing any such innovation clause."
The proposed government amendments would continue to allow councils to opt out of legal requirements but stipulates this must not include child protection areas.
Last month Children England chief executive Kathy Evans said the changes had done little to dampen fears that the bill would "create a patchwork of inconsistent rights and duties for children".
By Joe Lepper
10 January 2017
A police officer who took on a pioneering role to help children in Nottingham has been honoured by the Queen.
PC Sam Flint started as the Children in Care police officer 12 years ago when a pilot was launched to help prevent young people in care from committing crime. The role hadn’t been tried before anywhere in the country and is provided in partnership between Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire Police.
In her time, PC Flint has introduced methods of working which have led to a reduction in young people in Nottinghamshire being criminalised.
Now, she has been recognised for her efforts with a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, awarded for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community.
PC Flint said: “I am absolutely delighted to be nominated for such a lovely thing. A whole team effort has made this post the most rewarding experience in my police career. Seeing the positive outcomes for young people we work with makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
PC Flint works alongside the Youth Offending Team to support children in care, children on the edge of care and those living in residential children’s homes and foster placements.
A large area of her work has been in Child Sexual Exploitation working closely with the NSPCC and other organisations to identify children at risk and suspicious locations – something which has been recognised by the Home Office.
“In my 23 years’ service it’s the hardest role but the most satisfying,” said PC Flint.
Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at the City Council, said: “This is fantastic news and I’m delighted that Sam has been honoured for the work that she does.
“Sam plays a really important role giving children in care a friendly face they can trust and someone who they know will be there to support them during difficult times. She has worked hard to build good relationships with everyone.
“I am proud to work closely with Sam now and in the future. Her recognition in the New Year’s Honours is richly deserved and makes a big difference to the lives of Nottingham children.”
PC Flint not only visits young people in care regularly to check on their welfare and support them, her restorative approach also ensures young people are making amends, rehabilitated in the community and most importantly diverted from offending.
Inspector Paul Harris, Operational Lead, Nottinghamshire Integrated Offender Management, said: “Having joined with Sam ‘way back’ in 1994, but only recently been lucky enough to have her on my team, I’m absolutely overjoyed for her. Within her field of expertise (Children in Care), she possesses a national reputation, and this is reflected in this royal recognition. She is an incredibly significant asset to our organisation, yet Sam remains humble, dedicated, and utterly deserving of this award. I’m incredibly proud to be her supervisor and friend.”
4 January 2017
UNICEF today launched #EarlyMomentsMatter, a new campaign supported by the LEGO Foundation to drive increased awareness about the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and the impact of early experiences on the developing brain.
During this critical window of opportunity, brain cells can make up to 1,000 new connections every second – a once-in-a-lifetime speed. These connections contribute to children’s brain function and learning, and lay the foundation for their future health and happiness. A lack of nurturing care – which includes adequate nutrition, stimulation, love and protection from stress and violence – can impede the development of these critical connections.
The campaign kicks off with #EatPlayLove – a digital and print initiative aimed at parents and caregivers that shares the neuroscience on how babies’ brains develop. #EatPlayLove assets explain the science in a straightforward, visually interesting way to encourage parents and caregivers to continue to make the most of this unrivaled opportunity to provide their children with the best possible start in life.
By engaging with families, the initiative also aims to drive demand for quality, affordable early childhood development services and to urge governments to invest in programmes targeting the most vulnerable children.
According to a recent series in The Lancet nearly 250 million children in developing countries are at risk of poor development due to stunting and poverty. But the need for greater investment and action in early childhood development is not limited to low-income countries. Disadvantaged children living in middle- and high-income countries are also at risk. UNICEF estimates that millions more children are spending their formative years growing up in unstimulating and unsafe environments, putting their cognitive, social and emotional development at risk.
Investment in early childhood is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing the ability of all children to reach their full potential – increasing their ability to learn in school and, later, their earning capacity as adults. This is especially significant for children growing up in poverty. One 20-year study showed that disadvantaged children who participated in quality early childhood development programmes as toddlers went on to earn up to 25 per cent more as adults than their peers who did not receive the same support.
Early childhood development interventions, such as the Care for Child Development package that includes training community health workers to teach families about the importance of playing with their children in a way that stimulates healthy development can cost as little as 50 cents (USD) per capita per year, when combined with existing health services.
UNICEF is calling for governments to increase investments in early childhood, expand health and social services offered to young children, and strengthen support services for parents and caregivers.
10 January 2017
Demand for Barnardos’ services increased again in 2016, the organisation revealed today. According to preliminary figures, the children’s charity supported more than 12,304 children and families in the first nine months of 2016 compared with 11,718 the first nine months in 2015.
Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos, said, “Every year Barnardos works with hundreds of families facing all manner of challenges and we worked with more families and children than ever in 2016. Among the top needs of the children with whom Barnardos worked in 2016 were support for improving family relationships, their own social-emotional development and for enhancing their health and education. It is clear to us the economic recovery isn’t being felt by all as we are supporting parents who are under huge strain to meet the needs of their children because of the absence of appropriate quality public services.
“We are a third of the way into the Government’s flagship policy framework for young people, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014-2020 but its impact is not being felt. In fact its intention to lift 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020 has had to be altered upwards to 96,000 in light of the greater number of children living in consistent poverty.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said, “This framework rightly acknowledges the holistic nature of children’s lives and has many laudable recommendations spanning the different areas of children’s lives. For instance it pledges to improving support for families, something Barnardos sees from its work as an absolute priority. Intelligent investment in this area would reap huge benefits for countless families, as well as proving cost-effective, as it would negate the need for crisis intervention at a later stage.
“It is a challenging time for thousands of families in Ireland today. While we were encouraged by some steps taken in Budget 2017 to deliver affordable childcare for all, with a focus on low income families, many children’s public services are under-resourced or absent. It is crucial that 2017 sees quicker implementation of the varied recommendations of the Government’s own framework so that children can achieve Better Outcomes and experience Brighter Futures.”
3 January 2017