Children and youth who have overcome obstacles to achieve great things are being honoured tomorrow with B.C. Child and Youth in Care Awards as part of B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week (June 2-8, 2014) celebrations throughout the province.
An array of local events and initiatives will be held around the province to celebrate the week, including the second annual awards ceremony in Vancouver. The idea for B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week was driven by youth in care and first proclaimed in 2011. Youth in care also wrote the motto and theme for the week: “Notice. Listen. Respect. Stand with B.C. children and youth in care.”
B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week acknowledges and celebrates the individuality, accomplishments, resilience, talents and contributions of all B.C. children and youth in care. It also serves to combat negative stereotypes and social stigmas that many children and youth in care face. This year’s activities are also inclusive of children and youth in out-of-care options, such as youth in Youth Agreements.
Nominations for the awards were accepted in three age groups: six to 12, 13 to 18 and 19 to 24 years. There are four recipients in each category. Examples of criteria include:
- Overcoming significant obstacles in his/her life.
- Demonstrated courage and leadership.
- Community involvement/volunteering.
- Personal achievements in school and recreation.
- Peer support and advocacy.
Candidates were nominated by ministry staff, delegated Aboriginal agency staff, community partners and groups, foster parents, peers and individuals. A committee of young people, ministry staff and community partners reviewed the nominations and selected this year’s recipients. All 62 nominees will receive a certificate, with the 12 award recipients receiving a certificate and a small gift.
B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week is a joint partnership between the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, the Adoptive Families Association of BC, the B.C. Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents, the B.C. Federation of Foster Parents Associations, the Public Guardian and Trustee and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux -
“B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week is a testament to the intelligence, creativity, talent and resilience of B.C.’s kids in care. These young people, like all young people, are our future, and we should all take this opportunity to celebrate their many and varied accomplishments and to thank them for all they do to contribute to their communities every day.”
Olivia Reynolds, former youth in care and Ministry of Children and Family Development Aboriginal Services intern -
“I had the opportunity to help plan the B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week provincial event, and it was an incredibly rewarding and positive experience. I sat on a provincial youth committee that discussed with youth all over the province what B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week means to them. We brought their ideas and voice back to the provincial planning committee to make sure that the provincial event and all events happening in B.C. are meaningful and fun for children and youth in care. I highly encourage everyone to attend the B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week event happening in their communities and support children and youth in care.”
Jules Wilson, executive director, Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks -
“We're proud to be celebrating the fourth B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week - an idea proposed by our members to fight stigma, raise awareness about the barriers they face, and engage the public to celebrate their diversity, resilience and accomplishments. This week is for all British Columbians as we know it takes a village. Like all young people, those in and from care need support from their community to become the amazing people they want to be, and it’s our collective responsibility to stand with them so they can."
- There are a total of 12 B.C. Child and Youth in Care Award recipients being recognized across three age groups.
- An additional 50 B.C. Child and Youth in Care Award nominees are also being recognized at the event.
- The number of children in the care of the ministry in December 2013 was 8,164 - compared to a December 2001 figure of 10,229 - a 20% decline.
- There are approximately 4,300 Aboriginal children in care (52% of the total children in care caseload).
- The total number of Aboriginal children in care served by a delegated Aboriginal agency has more than tripled since 2001 - from 570 to 2,049.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development recently announced $2 million in funding to reinvigorate adoption, enhance permanency planning and increase permanent placements for children and youth in care.
- Ministry staff are also placing greater focus on permanency planning from the moment a child or youth comes into care.
- Children in foster care range in age from infants to 18-year-olds.
- Children come from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds, and many children come into care with their brothers and sisters. Every effort is made to place siblings together in foster homes.
- There are many reasons why children come into foster care:
- Some children are in care through voluntary agreements with parents or guardians who are experiencing difficulties. The parents may ask for temporary help because of illness, marital problems, or parent/child conflicts. Parents may ask the ministry to provide specialized care for a child who has physical or mental difficulties, or emotional or behavioural problems that are beyond the family’s ability to handle.
- Many children are in care because there are no other options to protect them from abuse in their own homes. They are in care by court order because of emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or neglect.
- Others may have parents who have passed away without naming a parent or guardian.
- In addition to securing temporary or permanent places for children and youth who cannot live with their parents or extended family, the Ministry of Children and Family Development funds a range of youth services that include outreach workers, youth support workers, youth and family mediation, guardianship, safe house and emergency shelter beds, transitional housing, Youth Agreements, and support services to sexually exploited youth.
- Youth Agreements are legal agreements between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and youth aged 16 to 18 years in need of assistance. The purpose of the agreements is to support the youth in their transition to adulthood through an individualized Plan for Independence, which often includes goals to find a safe place to live, return to school, and/or gain work experience and life skills.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development continues to support former youth in care, aged 19 to 24, with their independence goals through the Youth Education Assistance Fund and Agreements with Youth Adults program.
- Twitter hashtags being used as part of the week’s celebrations include: #youthincareareawesome, #standwithyouthincare, #BCCYICW, #BCCYICW2014
Check out the ministry’s B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week webpage: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster/incare_week.htm
Watch Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux’s video greeting: http://youtu.be/MdNWi_YsgE0
Watch a video created by youth for B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe1bEEsrHng
Learn more about the Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks: www.fbcyicn.ca
More information about the week, including youth-developed promo materials, suggested tweets, video and event listings can be found at: www.fbcyicn.ca/programs/youth-and-adults-partnering-for-change/bc-child-and-youth-in-care-week/
To learn more about the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, go to: www.rcybc.ca
Manager, Media Relations
Ministry of Children and Family Development