Category Archives: Advocacy

Youth Civics Day, Celebrating the Official Children and Youth in Care Day

On May 14th 2014, in celebration of the Official Children and Youth in Care Day, OACAS and YouthCAN will be hosting a Youth Civics Day event at Queen’s Park.  This fun and educational day brings together youth and Children’s Aid Societies staff from all across the province to learn about provincial political processes and history.

Attendees will get an opportunity to:

  • participate in a guided tour facilitated by staff from the legislature.
  • visit the legislative chamber and participate in educational activities.
  • meet and mingle with Children’s Aid Staff and youth in care from across the Province during a lunch reception.
  • option to engage in a self-guided scavenger hunt.
  • option to participate in a youth talent show.

For more information about the Official Children and Youth in Care Day, click here.

 

Official Children and Youth in Care Day

It’s official! May 14th is now Children and Youth in Care Day

In late March, the Honourable David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, granted royal assent to Bill 53, an Act to Proclaim Children and Youth in Care Day.

This Act recognizes May 14 of each year as Children and Youth in Care Day, acknowledging the enormous contributions current and former Crown and Society wards make to the Province, as well as the strength, bravery and resilience shown by these children and youth in the face of adversity.

The new law is the result of a private member’s bill put forward by Soo Wong, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director of OACAS, said “On behalf of our children and youth, the Ontario Association of Children`s Aid Societies (OACAS) thanks the government, and particularly Soo Wong for marking May 14th as Children and Youth in Care day. This is one more way to show that we value our young people and acknowledge the unique experiences they face. Youth will now have a day that they can call their own, a day to be proud of and a day to feel united across Ontario. We thank MPP Wong for her dedication to making this day a reality.” 

Click here to learn more about Soo Wong`s private member bill.

Celebrating Children and Youth in Care Day

 To  celebrate this important milestone, YouthCAN and OACAS will be hosting a Youth Civics Day event at Queen’s Park on May 14th, 2014.  This event will unite youth in care from all across the province to connect, celebrate, and learn about provincial politics at the legislature.  For more information, click here.

Background

In November 2011, youth in and from care shared their experiences and stories growing up as Crown wards of the province during the Youth Leaving Care Hearings at Queen’s Park. The Hearings were the first of their kind in Canada and examined the challenges that Crown wards face when they begin to age out of care at 18. The project was organized in the format of Standing Committee Hearings and captured verbal and written presentations from over 200 individuals, primarily youth and former youth in care, as well as professionals serving children and youth. The youth organizers, panelists and presenters included many youth from the OACAS YouthCAN program. OACAS was officially represented at the hearings and comments are captured in the written report.

‘My REAL Life Book’ a report that outlined recommendations from the Youth Leaving Care Hearings, and written with the input of youth in and from care, was subsequently submitted to the government in May 2012 by the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. The report called for “fundamental change” to better support youth as they transition from care, including the proclamation of a Children and Youth in Care Day.

Recent supports

Recently, new supports were announced for youth leaving care, including the creation of 50 Youth-in-Transition workers and access to health, dental and extended health services for young people previously in care, ages 21 to 24.

Click here to learn more about post-secondary supports for youth in care.

More needs to be done to help youth reach their full potential

These supports are an important step forward, but more needs to be done. Evidence shows youth often respond to crisis by running away and living on the street. Children’s Aid Societies are not currently permitted to protect youth of 16 and 17 years in need of protection from abuse or neglect.

Youth in care should have every opportunity to remain “at home” (in foster care, group care or ideally adopted) until they complete high school. However, current modes of practice continue to assume that youth leave foster care at 17 years of age. Research has demonstrated that youth have better chances of completing school if they remain at home until 21.

Click here to learn more about OACAS recommendations to support these young people to reach their full potential.

 

BEATING THE ODDS – SCHOLARSHIPS FOR YOUTH TRANSITIONING FROM CARE

BEATING THE ODDS – SCHOLARSHIPS FOR YOUTH TRANSITIONING FROM CARE

MO - Youth In Care Report_CoverBeating the Odds – Scholarships for Youth Transitioning from Care

Recently, focus has been increasing on youth in care as they transition to becoming adults. Statistics that track the progress of these young people as they move through the critical ages from 16 to 24 are not promising. Among other measures, youth in care are 46% less likely to complete high school than their peers, and only about 5% continue on to post-secondary studies.

Building on a 2011 pilot study involving 57 participants, this report explores the experience of 188 former youth in care associated with nine agencies in Ontario and Manitoba.

These young people fared better than many others in the same position. They completed
high school and are enrolled in or have graduated from university, college, or apprenticeship programs. All youth received post-secondary scholarships.

The studies tracked several factors related to the experience of these students,
with the main question being: Does making scholarships available to youth in care
affect their decision to seek out post-secondary studies?

To watch the Report Launch Webinar:

Watch the Webinar

To read more, download the full report:

Download the Report

New Supports for Youth: Health benefits and Transition Workers

News Release

New Supports for Youth Leaving Care

Ontario Helping Young People Prepare for Independence

Ministry of Children and Youth Services

 

Health Benefits

The Ontario province is  investing in a new Aftercare Benefits Initiative. Starting this summer, eligible young people ages 21 to 24, who were previously in the care of a Children’s Aid Society, can access:

  • Health and dental services, including prescription drugs, vision care and hearing aids.
  • Extended health services, such as physiotherapy, psychotherapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatment.
  • Additional benefits, including therapy and counselling.

 

Transition Workers

Ontario is helping young people leaving the care of Children’s Aid Societies find the right supports and services by creating 50 Youth-in-Transition worker positions across the province.

The Youth-in-Transition workers will help young people ages 16 to 24 by:

  • Securing local affordable housing.
  • Finding education and employment resources to help cover the cost of postsecondary education and training, or to find a job.
  • Identifying skills training, such as financial literacy courses and meal planning.
  • Accessing health and mental health services like being connected with a family doctor and counselling.
  • Locating legal services, including advice for youth in the justice system.

For more information.

List of Current Youth Post-Secondary Supports in Ontario

Since 2007, numerous changes have been introduced.  In addition to the community based Crown Ward Education Championship Teams, the following financial and service supports are now available for youth from CAS care.  Please note that in order to qualify for most benefits youth must apply for Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP). 

Click here for PDF file.

  • Application fee reimbursement for youth applying for post-secondary education:: Ontario Crown Ward Postsecondary Application Fee Reimbursement Program (2007)
  • Tuition grants of up to 50% (for university) to 100% (for single year college) of tuition up to a maximum of $3,000 per academic year for a maximum of four years: Ontario Access Grant for Crown Wards (OAGCW) (2007). This grant is based on financial eligibility.
  • Special OSAP exemptions for non-merit scholarships and bursaries for Crown wards, up to $3,500.
  • OCBe savings, provided to youth 18 years old, were not intended to offset educational costs, nor are they to be treated as income or assets in applying for OSAP, up to $3000 (please refer to MCYS directive).
  • Universal changes to OSAP, allowing increased earnings, more financial assistance, extended repayment schedules Strengthening Student Support in Ontario (2010) Some programs (e.g. book allowance) have been scaled back to fund the tuition fee reduction announced on January 3, 2012.
  • Ontario Tuition Grant (OTG) or fee reduction (announced as “the New 30% off tuition”) effective January 3, 2012 which provides tuition fee rebates to eligible students.  This 30% cannot be added to any other tuition reduction (such as the Ontario Access Grant for Crown Ward Program)
  • Continued Care and Support for Youth and Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM) allowances are not treated as income for purposes of OSAP needs assessment, meaning that youth may keep full allowance and qualify for more financial assistance through OSAP. (Giving more kids a place to call home: September 2011) For more information, see CCSY Fact Sheet (ENG) and CCSY Fact Sheet (FRE)
  • Learning Living Grant of $500 per academic month for youth ages 21-24 inclusive who are registered in an OSAP eligible college or university.  This is in addition to other grants and is to assist students transitioning out of care. (2013) Students must apply for this grant by visiting the OSAP website and submit before the deadline. To apply, click here.


Other supports for youth

  • Legislative change to allow youth whose court-ordered care was terminated at age 16 or 17 to return to CAS for financial and non-financial supports to age 21 Renewed Youth Supports (RYS) (2011)
  • OACAS three-year pilot project funded by Green Shield Canada for former Crown Wards, aged 21 to 23, to access Employee Assistance Plan-type benefits, delivered through Shepell FGI.  24-7 access to health & wellbeing, financial, legal and addiction counselling. Crown Ward Aftercare Benefits Initiative (2010)
  • New Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) program came into effect May 15th and replaces Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM).  It is a strength-based model.  Youth sign a CCSY Agreement and complete a “Youth Plan” also.  Youth receiving financial and other supports through CCSY is not contingent on them reaching their goals as outlined in the “Youth Plan”.  For more information, see CCSY Fact Sheet (ENG) and CCSY Fact Sheet (FRE) or please contact the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for more information.
  • Crown Ward Aftercare Benefits Program is a pilot project funded by Greenshield Canada’s Social Surplus Fund and administered by Sheppell-FGI.  The program offers counselling and other EAP type supports for youth transitioning out of care.  Youth who turned 21 in 2011 or 2012 are eligible to access the program until their 23rd birthday.  For more information visit www.oacas.org/crownward.

Additional Links

Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent (OCBe) (2008)

  • Designed to support tutoring, skill building, recreational and cultural program
  • Additional support of OCBe savings for youth in care 15 to 17 yrs, accessible after age 18
  • Mandatory financial literacy training

Ontario Access Grant for Crown Wards

  • For Crown Wards in post-secondary programs
  • Must be eligible for Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan

Ontario Crown Ward Postsecondary Application Fee Reimbursement Program (2007)

  • Intended to reimburse current and former Ontario Crown wards for eligible postsecondary application fees
  • Not income-tested; no OSAP application required

http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/students/ocwp_faqs.html

Increase of the OSAP scholarship and bursary exemption for Crown wards

  • Doubling the scholarship and bursary exemption for Crown wards from $1750 to $3500

http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/breakingthecycle/report/index.aspx  “Breaking the Cycle” page 14

OSAP Exemption of OCBe Savings (2009)

  • Savings from OCBe not reported as assets or income on OSAP application
  • Up to $3500 of eligible bursaries/scholarships exempted from OSAP assessment

http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/about/Results_2010-2011.aspx

Changes to OSAP (‘Strengthening Student Support’) (2010)

  • Book/equipment/supply allowance adjusted for inflation
  • New grant for part-time students
  • Loan repayment enhancements
  • Enhancements to loans and scholarships

http://news.ontario.ca/tcu/en/2010/03/strengthening-student-support-in-ontario.html

Crown Ward Aftercare Benefits Initiative (2010)

www.oacas.org/crownward

  • OACAS three-year pilot funded by Green Shield Canada for former Crown Wards, aged 21 to 23, to access Employee Assistance Plan type benefits, delivered through Shepell FGI.
  • Full range of counselling services (including health & wellbeing, financial, legal and addiction counselling)

OSAP and ECM Allowances (2011)

http://www2.oacas.org/resources/announcements/11/aug/index.htm

http://news.ontario.ca/mcys/en/2011/04/backgrounder-giving-more-kids-a-place-to-call-home.html

http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/childrensaid/childrensaidsocieties/leavingcare.aspx

  • Effective 2011 – 2012 academic year ECM and the new Continued Care and Support for Youth allowances not treated as income in OSAP Needs Assessment

 

2013 Child Welfare Report

2013 Child Welfare Report

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) published the 2013 Child Welfare Report, providing recommendations to the government to help improve and advance child welfare in Ontario. The priorities speak specifically to the recommendations arising from the report of the Commission for Sustainable Child Welfare, Realizing a Sustainable Child Welfare System in Ontario, and signal recommendations to help the sector move forward in the areas of sustainability and modernization.

CCSY Continued Care and Support for Youth Fact Sheet

As of May 15, 2013, the Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) program has replaced the former Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM) guidelines.  Through CCSY, youth ages 18, 19, and 20 can receive financial and other supports from a Children’s Aid Society (CAS).  This support is intended to help youth build on their strengths and meet their goals during their transition into adulthood.

English Version

French Version

 

Ontario Government Announces Post-Secondary Supports for Crown Wards

On June 25th 2013, Brad Duguid Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities announced-post secondary supports for Crown Wards and Youth Leaving Care.Ontario Government Providing More Support to Help Young People Succeed.Starting this September 2013, all Universities and some participating colleges will cover 100 per cent of tuition fees for four years, up to a maximum of $6,000 per year, for former Crown wards and youth who are in and leaving care.Also, a Living and Learning Grant monthly allowance of $500 for former crown wards aged 21-24 enrolled in OSAP eligible post-secondary institutions.
mtcu
Our very own Vera Williams, YouthCAN Coordinator was at the official launch and announcements for these supports with Minister Brad Duguid at University of Toronto.
List of all Colleges and Universities providing free tuition:
Participating Colleges:
      • Collège Boréal
      • Cambrian College
      • Canadore College
      • Humber College
      • La Cité Collégiale
      • Northern College
      • Sault College
      • Sheridan College

Participating Universities:

      • Algoma University
      • Brock University
      • Carleton University
      • Lakehead University
      • Laurentian University
      • McMaster University
      • Nipissing University
      • OCAD University
      • University of Ontario Institute of Technology
      • University of Ottawa
      • Queen’s University
      • Ryerson University
      • Saint Paul University
      • Trent University
      • University of Guelph
      • University of Toronto
      • University of Waterloo
      • University of Windsor
      • Western University
      • Wilfrid Laurier University
      • York University
For more information, visit:

2013 YPAAG Bark Lake Leadership Retreat (May 24-26)

On May 24th 2013 16 young leaders from the Youth Policy Advisory and Advocacy Group (YPAAG) spent three days at the Bark Lake Leadership Retreat Centre.  This years group welcomed many new members while were happy to see familiar leaders as well.  They spent three days building on teamwork skills through low ropes course challenges, tandem canoes, high ropes, and many other team building activities such as an amazing race!  YPAAG continues to be a leader and go-to voice for many standing commissions.  They meet with decision makers, influence legislation, and act as the unifying voice for youth in care in Ontario.

Click here for more information about YPAAG.

Click here to view all other networking zone updates.

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“Thanks to all whom attended this years awesome retreat! I have met great friends, have great memories and a larger support system not only to help me but also for me to help guide if someone needs to talk! This event helped shaped me more into the leader I see myself becoming ” -by: YPAAG Youth”

 

“From North, East, South and West,
We come together, to learn our best,
We may be new, different, divided,
… But through advocacy and teamwork we are UNITED
Youth Policy Advocacy & Advisory Group, you were definitely invited
We come together and in the end we’re YPAAG UNITED”  -by: YPAAG Youth

Tale of a Youth in Care – Mandy Richards at TEDx Youth in Sudbury

Tale of a Youth in Care – Mandy Richards at TEDx Youth in Sudbury

Mandy Richard is a 22 year old youth from the Wikwemikong Unceeded Reserve on Manitoulin Island, in Ontario Canada who currently lives in Toronto. She came into care when she was 9 years old.

Mandy has been involved in the YouthCAN program since 2006, has been a strong leader with the Youth Policy Advisory and Advocacy Group, played an integral role at the Youth Leaving Care Hearings and most recently completed an internship at OACAS in Communications.  Last week, Mandy graduated from the Journalism program at Canadore College in North Bay.

Click here to watch Mandy’s presentation at the TEDx event in Sudbury in May 2013.