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Press Releases

News from the field of Child and Youth Care

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25 MAY

CANADA

UNICEF and dozens of celebrities shine spotlight on challenges facing youth in Canada

A recent UNICEF report comparing the well-being of children in the richest countries around the world placed Canada an alarming 25th among the 41 countries measured. These rankings haven't improved in more than a decade, which has UNICEF Canada partnering with top Canadian celebrities to do something about it.

Today, UNICEF Canada launches a new ad campaign to highlight "One Youth" – a groundbreaking initiative with the mission to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in by 2030. The campaign brings together dozens of Canadian celebrities to have a chat with Canada. With the words, "Canada, We Need to Talk," Canadian celebrities are starting the conversation about kids living in poverty, teen suicide rates, bullying and other subjects where Canada desperately needs to improve. The campaign drives to OneYouthCanada.ca, and encourages Canadians to take action – with a set goal of achieving #8MillionActions (one for every Canadian youth) by World Children's Day on November 20, 2018, and provides dozens of ideas for how all Canadians can get involved.

"Every child in Canada has the right to the best possible opportunities and outcomes. Right now, that's not what many of them are getting," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "Our society has grown more unequal and children and youth are paying the price. But Canada has what it takes to do better."

The campaign features more than twenty Canadian celebrities including actors Keanu Reeves, Elisha Cuthbert, Cobie Smulders, Eugene Levy, Jay Baruchel, Patrick Adams, Jason Priestley, Neve Campbell, Xavier Dolan, Marc-André Grondin, and Eric McCormack; YouTube star Matthew Santoro; musical artists Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Alessia Cara, Stephen Voyce and Ian Campeau; TV host Alex Trebek; tennis star Eugenie Bouchard; comedian Sugar Sammy; chef Antonio Park; film director Denis Villeneuve; and retired Canadian Women's Soccer Team goalie Karina LeBlanc – all who donated their time and energy to UNICEF Canada's One Youth.

McCann Worldgroup Canada, and FH Studio worked pro bono on the project to enlist Canadian celebrities to the cause. "We'd like to thank McCann and FH studios for their great contribution to this campaign," said Morley. "By bringing together dozens of Canadian celebrities to speak up on key issues affecting youth well-being, we hope more Canadians will feel the urge to act, and governments will continue their momentum to create great conditions for growing up."

UNICEF Canada's One Youth is working with partners and youth to build the new gold standard for measuring children's well-being customized to the Canadian experience, and developing and testing new solutions to the challenges they face. It is calling on Canadians to take action and to aim higher for children and youth. This is one of the organization's first campaigns highlighting issues right here at home.

"The time has come to leave the status quo behind and speak up for and with kids across the country," said Morley. "By bringing together dozens of Canadian celebrities to speak up on key issues affecting youth, we hope more Canadians will feel the urge to act, and governments will continue their momentum to create great conditions for growing up."

One Youth is currently funded in partnership with the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Lawson Foundation and Intact Foundation.

UNICEF key findings:

22 May 2018

UNICEF Canada

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23 MAY

NEW ZEALAND

Young children pushed to the brink by family violence

Children as young as 7 or 8 are telling social workers they have thought of killing themselves because of the violence at home.

New Zealand has high rates of domestic violence and one of the highest suicide rates in the OECD and while some blame failing mental health services, others say a safe home would be a good place to start.

Every year about 10 children are killed by a member of their own family and dozens more end up in hospital with serious injuries.

Police investigated 118,000 cases of domestic violence in 2016. Between July 2016 and July 2017, 13 children aged between 10 and 14 killed themselves.

Experts and groups such as domestic abuse charity Shine have now drawn the link between violence and youth suicide. Shine spokesperson Jill Proudfoot said suicidal thoughts were common among those who had experienced or witnessed family violence.

"I've talked to a number of children even as young as 7 or 8-years-old wanting to take their own lives because they're so distressed about what's happening in their family," she said.

She wanted more focus on the link between family violence and suicide.

"When we talk about our youth suicide, I hear people say we need more mental health services for these youth, but these young people are growing up in homes where they're not safe and they're being exposed to violence in their homes and what they really need is a safe home," she said.

Oranga Tamariki chief social worker Paul Nixon said there was clear evidence about the emotional damage children suffered from living in a violent household, such as chronic anxiety, drugs and alcohol use.

Mr Nixon said since the review of Child Youth and Family and the launch of Oranga Tamariki, there had been a much greater focus on mental health.

"Having a trauma-informed approach was one of the big building blocks of the new organisation and it means looking much more closely at children's well-being and their mental health.

"We have a service called Towards Well-being which is manned by 13 clinical psychologists, who look at and give advise to social workers working with vulnerable children to help them think about the risks to their mental health," he said.

The Suicide Mortality Review Committee advises health officials on how to reduce the number of people taking their own lives, with its latest report released in 2016.

Deputy chair Sarah Fortune said they were struck by the figures that showed the link between family violence and the suicide of rangatahi Maori.

"Around one in five young people were documented to have been exposed to family violence and that was either as a direct victim of violence, or a witness of violence, or that they in their relatively young lives had gone on to be in a violent relationship with an intimate partner.

"And it looked like from that data the rates were slightly higher amongst young men, so it was about one in four young men and about one in six young women. Now those figures are extremely concerning, but we are more concerned that this is likely a significant undercount," Dr Fortune said.

Family violence is one of the areas the committee will be investigating in its next suicide review, due out next year.

22 May 2018

Source: RNZ 

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21 MAY

NEW ZEALAND

More to be done on poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the government has more work to do when it comes to helping the country's poorest families.

The Child Poverty Action Group has raised concerns about the $5.5 billion families package not doing enough for the children of the worst-off families. The group wanted benefit sanctions removed for families where there are children, as well as changes to the amount of money beneficiaries could earn before their payments were docked.

But there was no action on that in the Budget.

Economics spokesperson Susan St John said people working on the front line with those families were seeing a growing amount of distress. "Many families simply do not have enough to eat and that is not good enough for a developed country," she said.

Ms Ardern said the poorest families would have more money in their pockets through the families package, which kicks in on 1 July. That was only a first step, she said. "We're now undertaking a piece of work around the way our welfare system works and I do expect to see further recommendations off the back of that too."

Ms St John said she was hopeful the government would make more announcements soon, so families in need did not have to wait even longer for help.

The Budget included $7.9m of funding over four years to set up a child poverty unit. The unit will advise on policies that affect poverty among children, and coordinate the government's work to reduce poverty and material hardship.

The government is also boosting funding to Stats NZ, to allow it to increase the sample size of the Household Economic Survey to 20,000 households.

Statistics minister James Shaw said the larger sample sizes would give the government a more robust and reliable picture of the incomes and living standards of smaller population groups, such as Māori and Pasifika families.

18 May 2018

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18 MAY

NEW ZEALAND

Support for many, but social services will still struggle

“This Budget has not recognised the extremely dire situation that community social services are experiencing”, said Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services. “While, we are pleased to see the initiatives which will begin to address the needs of those in our communities who are living in poverty, the social services organisations who can support families and whanau to make the most of these new opportunities continue to be starved of resources. Like the primary health system, community social services provide support and treatment for families before their issues spiral out of control and need expensive higher-level services”.

The 2018 Budget has responded to the many signals from communities regarding the needs of their people, lack of housing, inability to meet their health needs, needs for improved schools, more teachers, and improved funding for ECE and special education. This, along with increases in income and accommodation support delivered through the Families Package will see positive improvements in the wellbeing of some of those who live in poverty.

In the social services sector we see a much-needed boost in funding for community-based Family Violence services, which is fantastic news for this sector. The increasing funding going to community based transitional housing and Housing First initiatives is what is needed to support those who are homeless to be homed for the long-term. Equally we hope that some of the resources for reducing the prison population will be channelled to community organisations which support the reintegration of those released from prisons. The ever-growing Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children receives a significant funding boost ($269.9 million over 4 years) to “expand its services”.

The core community-based social services sector received no additional funding. This sector has received no increases in funding for 10 years – not even a cost of living increase. Yet they provide essential services for hundreds of thousands of New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens. The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services has worked with other social services umbrella organisations to alert Ministers to the situation of community providers and the impacts of this sustained lack of funding.

“Community social services are struggling to survive, we are likely to see further reductions and rationing of essential community services as organisations try to remain sustainable”, said McGlinchey. “We must have an interim funding programme for these organisations so they can properly support our communities until a more sustainable funding model is developed.”

17 May 2018

Press Release: NZCCSS 

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16 MAY

UK

Majority of looked after children in Wales experiencing high levels of placement stability

Most children and young people in care in Wales are doing well, with over three quarters experiencing a high level of placement stability, new research published today shows.

The Welsh Government commissioned the Institute of Public Care (IPC) to carry out an analysis of outcomes for children and young people 4 to 5 years after a final Care Order. The study set out to explore the placement journeys for children in care in Wales, how these compare with the outcomes aspired to in their Care Plan and the key success factors associated with positive placements.

The large scale analysis involved all of the 1,076 children and young people with a final Care Order made in Wales in the 12 month period from April 2012 to March 2013. A smaller representative sub-sample of 79 cases was then drawn from five local authority areas to allow more in-depth analysis to be conducted.

The report found:

• Over three quarters of the whole cohort of children experienced a high level of placement stability – with either no placement move (30%) or only one (46%) placement move over the 4-5 year period that the study looked at.
• 71% of the smaller sub-sample had overall positive outcomes in relation to their home environment, communication and attachments; education; physical health and the absence of offending; 19% had mixed outcomes; and 10% had overall negative outcomes;
• Whilst 78% of the whole cohort of children was officially recorded as having a primary need for care relating to abuse and neglect, the in-depth analysis found that almost all children in the sub-sample had experienced abuse and neglect before the Care Order was made.

The study is part of the work of the Improving Outcomes for Children Ministerial Advisory Group. The Group is taking forward a significant programme of work to help safely reduce the number of children coming into care, improve outcomes for children already in care and better support care leavers to adulthood and independence.

Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies said:“Improving outcomes and life chances for care experienced children is a key priority for me. This Government is committed to ensuring the life chances of looked after children are the same as for other children.

“I am pleased to see many children and young people are doing well in care in Wales, with over three quarters of the children this study looked at experiencing a high level of placement stability. The study highlights the good work that is taking place by both children’s social services and their education partners throughout Wales to secure the best possible outcomes for children in care.

“However, there are still significant challenges for children in care in Wales, particularly in supporting children who are dealing with the impact of abuse and trauma. We must learn and use the findings from this work to help ensure the emotional health and wellbeing needs of children are addressed in a therapeutic way and continue to focus on providing high quality and long-term placements that will help to meet their needs.”

15 May 2018

Source: Care Appointments 

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14 MAY

CANADA

Judy Darcy urges educators, youth workers to address ‘very big gaps’ in youth mental health

At the School Community Mental Health Conference professionals across the province in the fields of education, law enforcement, government and social work came together to improve youth mental health

For the first time, professionals across the province from the fields of education, law enforcement, government and social work came together to find ways to improve youth mental health. The first School Community Mental Health Conference, held on Thursday and Friday in Richmond, aimed to break down the “silos” of how these different fields address youth mental health. It concluded with updates from the ministries of health, education, and child and family development on how they were addressing mental health.

During her closing address, Judy Darcy, minister for mental health and addictions, gave an emotional speech on how more needed to be done for young people with mental illness who were falling through the cracks of mental health services.

“In this province we still have a duty that we are failing at a fundamental level,” said Darcy.

She spoke about meeting with parents of a young teen who had died of an overdose before the age of 16, after being rejected by multiple programs and services. She said that the overdose crisis has been a “stress test” on the province’s mental health system, highlighting resources that have been pushed to the limit in trying to deal with the crisis, and the children that get left behind.

“After years of neglect is it very clear that we have some very big gaps,” she said.

In B.C. 2.3 per cent of students have mental-illness or behaviour designations in their school – but the students with school designations are only a fraction of the approximately one in eight school-aged children in B.C. that experience one or more mental-health disorders.

Darcy said that she is working to build a provincial Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions Plan, based on community feedback and meetings that will be happening throughout 2018. It is part of effort to create an overarching Mental Health and Addictions Strategy for the entire province. Both are slated to be completed in early 2019.

Minister of education Rob Fleming also announced a plan to expand on the anti-bullying strategy Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) program, to include more aspects of mental health like social media use and sexual orientation and identity.

Jennifer McCrea, assistant deputy at the Ministry of Education, also brought attention to the need for educators and youth workers to know when a child comes from a troubled background or is in care, especially for Indigenous students. McCrea said that social workers can support educators to better understand a child’s emotional wwell-being and identify ones that may be at-risk.

“We have to look at where the child is coming from, and their families, and look at residential school trauma,” McCrea said.

By Cherise Seucharan

11 May 2018

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11 MAY

EUROPE

A call to action to leave no child behind

Eurochild signs a joint open letter in support of a 2019 Rights of the Child resolution on children without parental care. To join the statement, follow the instructions in the article!

A coalition of child-focused organisations and networks have created a 2-page statement calling for UN Member States to select the theme of children without parental care, as a focus for the 2019 Rights of the Child resolution, listing compelling reasons to do so.

The UN GA Resolution on the Rights of the Child is a vital instrument that tackles pertinent issues relating to children, with detailed recommendations on how to protect them and their rights, but there has never been a Rights of the Child resolution that has specifically addressed the rights of children without parental care.

Without access to quality and appropriate alternative care, children deprived of parental care and those at risk of losing it, often face a downward spiral of economic, social and structural exclusion, and marginalization with long-term consequences for them and their communities.

2019 is a particularly important year as it marks the 10th Anniversary of the Guidelines on the Alternative Care for Children (A/RES/64/142) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009, providing a unique and timely opportunity for the UN General Assembly to address the issue of children without parental care. There have been significant achievements since then, and this would be an opportunity to take stock of the progress that has been made, and look at the impact that the Guidelines have had on the lives of children.

Children without parental care are affected by a wide range of development issues included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and they are one of the most “left behind” groups of children. Therefore, if we want to achieve the SDGs and its principle to “reach the furthest behind first”, there needs to be a focus on children without parental care.

Read the statement here

9 May 2018 

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9 MAY

NEW ZEALAND

Barnardos welcomes funding for family violence services

Barnardos is welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement that frontline family violence services will get a significant funding boost in this year’s Budget.

Jeff Sanders, Chief Executive, says that “As a family violence service provider, Barnardos works directly with tamariki and whanau experiencing the immediate and aftermath impacts of family violence. We see family violence is a problem throughout Aotearoa, detrimentally affecting tamariki and whanau from all walks of life.”

“This funding boost is significant, urgently needed and will make a real difference. We know that for tamariki and whanau to effectively rebuild their lives after family violence and to go on to thrive, access to timely and expert support services is essential. This announcement is a positive first step”, Mr. Sanders says.

Barnardos provides a range of family violence support services for tamariki and whanau. These include Barnardos’ Children’s Safety Programme and Footsteps to Feeling Safe, for tamariki who have witnessed or experienced family violence. Through the Programme, children develop a safety plan to help them stay safe, and are supported to make sense of their experience and develop a sense of hope for the future. Children are supported to build their confidence, and to know how and where to get help if it is needed.

Mr. Sanders says that family violence is a problem Barnardos is committed to helping prevent, and that alongside putting children at the heart of its work, Barnardos takes a holistic view, working with parents too.

“We actively support parents, families and whanau to understand the negative influence and effects of family violence, and how they can build a family environment that is violence free, so tamariki and the whole family can thrive.

Feedback from participants in our family violence services shows that Barnardos programmes make a real and positive difference for tamariki and whanau.

“As well as receiving referrals for family violence services from Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Justice, a significant proportion of Barnardos’ work supporting those who have experienced family violence comes through non-formal referral channels, reflecting the widespread nature of family violence.

“Given that family violence is a pervasive problem facing many of the families we work with, we know we need to constantly strengthen the services we provide, so tamariki and whanau are well-supported. We also know that the impacts of family violence can be life-long, and that family violence is a stressor which is rarely experienced in isolation. So, we welcome funding and support from Government that recognises this reality,” says Mr Sanders.

 9 May 2018

Press Release: Barnardos 

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7 MAY

UK

Turnover of directors of children's services hits record level

There was a record number of changes in children's services leaders over the past year, latest analysis reveals.

Analysis by the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) shows that from April 2017 to March 2018, there were 65 changes in director of children services (DCS) post holders. The record total is nearly a third more than the number in 2016/17 (44) and significantly above the average annual figure over the association's 11-year history (47).

The changes were spread across 57 local authorities, with eight councils having experienced two DCS changes over the 12-month period.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS president, said some "churn" in DCS post holders was to be expected, but that the past year represented a "high level of turbulence".

He said: "The majority of the changes have been accounted for by DCSs moving from one local authority to another, former DCSs filling interim positions or returning to the DCS role, and a large amount of succession from assistant director level."

This "ensures that leadership positions are held by experienced and knowledgeable individuals", Gallimore added.

Other key findings from the DCS Update 2018 analysis includes:

The analysis also shows there has been a marked drop in so-called "twin-hat" directors – those who combine their DCS role with running adult services or other directorates. In 2017/18, there were 46 twin-hat directors, compared with 57 a year earlier and 61 in 2014/15.

In the past year, 17 authorities have uncoupled the twin-hat role, while six have combined the children and adult directorships.

"Since 2007, around two thirds of local authorities have at some point had a combined children and adult services directorate led by a twin-hat director," said Gallimore.

"There appears to be an increasing trend in local authorities to move away from combined arrangements, however, little can be inferred from this – it is up to local authorities how they design their local systems for the benefit of local communities."

By Derren Heyes

3 May 2018

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4 MAY

Canada: Ontario expanding mental health and addictions support for youth

Six new youth wellness hubs will help up to 12,000 youth

Ontario is investing in six new youth wellness hubs to help more youth access the mental health and addictions services they need, close to home.

Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, made the announcement today at the Mississauga-based Malton Neighbourhood Services, the network lead for the Malton Youth Wellness Hub.

Youth wellness hubs are walk-in centres where young people ages 12 to 25 can get one-stop access to the mental health and addictions services they need. Services include mental health assessments, treatment for addictions and substance use, therapy and counselling, peer and family support and referrals to health care providers, including psychiatrists. Primary care, education, employment and housing services are also available, all under one youth-friendly roof.

Through these new integrated hubs, up to 12,000 young people who are experiencing mental health or addictions challenges will get the support they need. The hubs also provide seamless access to more specialized care and treatment, if needed.

This investment is part of a historic new $2.1 billion investment that will make it easier to access mental health and addiction services through a local school, family doctor's office or community-based organization. In addition to these six new youth wellness hubs, the 2018 Budget also commits to creating 15 additional youth wellness hubs across the province.

Ontario will also hire additional mental health workers in secondary schools, who will support mental health and addiction issues early on and provide a bridge to community services so students can get the services they need when they need it. Every secondary school in Ontario will have access to an additional mental health worker, with about 400 new positions being added within two years. Other supports will include new permanent funding for professional development for educators and staff and the inclusion of social-emotional learning skills throughout the curriculum.

Expanding access to mental health and addictions services is part of the government's broader plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.

Quick facts

3 May 2018

Source: Ministry of Children and Youth Services
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2 MAY

USA

One-fifth of homeless youth are victims of human trafficking

The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania released a major study today on the prevalence of human trafficking among homeless youth. This groundbreaking research also examined child welfare-related factors, including history of child abuse and out-of-home placement among those who identified as victims of sex trafficking or who engaged in commercial sex.

Commissioned by Covenant House International, the research focused on Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix as part of the largest study to date on human trafficking among homeless youth. Researchers from the Field Center found that:

• 20 percent of those interviewed were victims of human trafficking. This includes 17 percent who were sex trafficked and 6 percent who trafficked for other labor.
• 14 percent engaged in “survival sex,” to meet basic needs such as food or housing.
• Among sex trafficking survivors, 41 percent were approached on their first night of homelessness.
• 95 percent of sex trafficking victims reported a history of child abuse or neglect.

“The findings from this study are both alarming and enlightening,” said Debra Schilling Wolfe, executive director of the Field Center, which brings together Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, Law School, School of Nursing, and Perelman School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in order to bring critical change to the child welfare system by shaping policy through research and legislative reform. “As we learn more about who is at risk for sex trafficking, we can create policies and implement practices to actually prevent young people from being victimized and stem the pipeline to predators,” Wolfe said.

The research also highlights the connection between sex trafficking and online advertising, including Backpage.com, which has recently been shut down by the FBI with federal indictments against the online marketplace. Researchers found that 44 percent of the sex trafficking victims were subjects of an online ad, with half of them reporting that they were advertised on Backpage.

“Hundreds of courageous young people who have suffered through human trafficking described their desperation, many singling out Backpage as the platform that sold them,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “These findings are shining a white-hot spotlight and revealing the gravity of sex trafficking to the world. I am grateful to the researchers at Penn for bringing about real reform by giving our young people a voice that is being heard in Washington and all across the country.”

Field Center researchers identified risk factors for exploitation, including experiencing maltreatment early in life.

Of those who reported that they were victims of sex trafficking, 49 percent had a history of sexual abuse as children. Only 69 percent who experienced abuse or neglect reported getting any help or services. The researchers also found:

• When sex trafficking victims told adults about their childhood maltreatment, only 36 percent saw action on their behalf.
• 41 percent of those who were sex trafficked had at least one out-of-home placement in their lives.
• More than half of those surveyed did not have a place to live at some point in their lives before their 18th birthdays.
• 67 percent of sex trafficking victims in the study did not graduate from high school.
• A disproportionate number of youth who were sex trafficked identified as LGBTQ.

“This research tells us that sex trafficking is not the first victimization for most of these young people,” said Wolfe. “Not only were they exploited as victims of child abuse and neglect, but they learned early on that adults in their lives would not protect them.”

The study also yielded information regarding resilience factors that helped young people. Youth who reported the presence of a supportive adult in their lives and those who completed high school were less likely to be trafficked, the Field Center found.

Between February 2014 and March 2017, researchers from Covenant House, the Field Center, and Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project interviewed nearly 1,000 homeless youth in 13 cities. They compiled their data as part of a larger, national study.

30 April 2018
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