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The system and legislation?

2016

Hello Everyone!

I am a second year student at Mount Royal University majoring in Child and Youth Care Counselling. I was fortunate enough to acquire a position working with youth through YTA as my practicum. In addition to the YTA program I am given ample opportunities to learn and experience other programs within the agency that YTA works closely with. Since working with the youth population, I have noticed some obstacles and inconsistencies regarding the system and legislation.

There seems to be some discrepancy between our justice, welfare, advocacy, and mental health systems. For example I have come across many youth programs that only offer support until a youth is 18, whether or not that particular youth is ready or is still in need of that care and support. Unfortunately by law, at 18 years of age, you become an adult. There are many youth that, due to a disability; brain damage, mental health, etc, are not ready to be treated as an adult. I am under the impression that the YCJA underwent some significant provisions in 2003 however. I have also witnessed some difficulties working with youth and the YCJA. With that being said, I have very limited knowledge regarding legislation.

I was hoping that you could provide me with some insight and different perspectives on what challenges and limitations the legislation and system imposes on CYCC workers and how this affects the children and youth we work with? In contrast, how can we utilize the legislation and system to aid our work? Lastly, what are some resources I could refer to in order to better understand the legislation?

Thank you,

Brittney Pawson
...

The Nova Scotia Youth Ombudsman would be a great place to start. They are often seen as “part of the government” But they are there to help youth in care navigate “the system”. They help youth know their rights and help them have a voice in their own care. The staff there are incredibly caring and know their stuff. I’m sure if you gave them a call they would be more than happy to sit down with you. When I was doing my practicum I worked with them and learned the system from “the other side” so to speak. It was a great experience and has helped me so much in my career.

 Best of luck!

Emily
...

Hello Emily,

Sorry for not getting back to you earlier. Thank you for your response. The Nova Scotia Youth Ombudsman is an interesting support system offered to youth. I took advantage of exploring their website and exchanging emails to better understand their role in working with youth. It is comforting that there is a dedicated team working to ensure that youth are treated fairly, advocated for and supported. Unfortunately this specific process is not available in Alberta. However I was fortunate to attend a workshop to help understand the YCJA and Restorative Justice for youth. In particular I found the Restorative Justice portion very interesting. I was unaware of this practice. This alternate resolution approach works with those affected by crime by giving everyone involved a voice and opportunity to receive what they need. This process is voluntary with equal opportunity to be heard through the support of workers who mediate the conversation. I personally feel that this process is important because it provides support for both the offender and the victim, as well as requires responsibility to be taken. I look forward to continue to take advantage of various opportunities to further my knowledge of our system and legislation.

I am still interested to hear if anyone has experienced difficulties or challenges working with youth in regards to legislation or/and our system, and how they utilized their strengths to navigate and provide support in the most beneficial way for the youth?

Thank you!
Brittney
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