Children and Youth in Care Day recognized by Tikinagan Child & Family Services, OACAS
Tim Brody - Editor
Tikinagan Child & Family Services joined the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) on May 14 in recognizing Children and Youth in Care Day.
“This important day, proclaimed into law as the Children and Youth in Care Day Act, 2012, offers an opportunity to recognize the enormous contributions that current and former youth in care make to this province, as well as their strength, bravery and resilience in the face of adversity,” OACAS shared on their website.
“The more people understand their unique lived-experiences, the more likely children and youth in and from care will get the supports they need to reach their full potential,” a news release from Tikinagan stated.
“As an agency, we recognize the importance of this day and honour the strength, bravery, and resilience shown by children and youth in the face of difficult times,” said Thelma Morris, Executive Director of Tikinagan Child & Family Services. “We hope this day will destigmatize views about children and youth in and from care by increasing public awareness and understanding.
“I think it’s important we celebrate the amazing success of children and youth in care who have connections to our 30 First Nation communities,” she added.
“To help share the stories and to support the new Children and Youth in Care Day campaign OACAS also has developed a new hashtag – #CARE4CARE – and logo. The lion in the new logo represents the bravery and courage these children and youth need in order to overcome the obstacles and challenges of being an individual in and from care,” Tikinagan explained, adding, “There are approximately 12,000 children and youth in care in Ontario. Each year, 800 – 1,000 individuals “age out” and leave the care of the Ontario child welfare system.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Tikinagan and OACAS are thinking differently about what the celebration looks like. OACAS has provided a toolkit to help adults support children and youth in care during COVID-19 as well as a list of activities to celebrate Children and Youth in Care Day virtually.
“Similarly this year, Tikinagan’s annual Honouring Our Children Day will take place on Wednesday, June 24. The Day, which started in 2010, is recognized and celebrated throughout the summer by the agency and in each of the 30 First Nation communities with family-friendly events. In the past, the Day has included community feasts, BBQs, games and activities, special guests, and even a jumpy castle. Much like Children and Youth in Care Day, this is just one way to remind children how important and special they are, as each community celebrates the day in its own unique way,” Tikinagan shared.
Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, released the following statement to recognize Children and Youth in Care Day:
“Children and Youth in Care Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about children and youth who are in the care of a children's aid society in Ontario and to reaffirm our commitment to help them reach their full potential.
“It is also an opportunity to thank the staff, managers and community partners who are working on the front lines to keep children, youth and families safe, supported and healthy, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Because of their commitment and dedication, children and youth across Ontario continue to have access to the critical supports and resources they need.
“Current and former children and youth in care make tremendous contributions to our province as they demonstrate strength, bravery, and resilience each and every day. We thank them for sharing their lived experiences and ideas as we redesign and modernize the child welfare system in Ontario to ensure we build a system that gives them the quality supports they deserve.
“During these unprecedented times, nothing is more important than protecting the health and well-being of children and youth in care.
“In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our government has taken decisive action to meet the immediate needs of children and youth in care. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, no youth in care or former youth in care in Ontario will age out of the supports and services they are currently receiving through children's aid societies.
“Our government is deeply committed to providing the best care and support to children and youth in the child welfare system. Our vision is for an Ontario where every child and youth have the supports they need to succeed and thrive. Through our engagements on strengthening the child welfare system, we have heard valuable input about where the child welfare sector is now and where it should go in the future. The need for change is clear.
“We want all children and youth in care to know they are not alone and that we are committed to continue listening and collaborating with them and building a system that delivers the outcomes our children and youth deserve.”
“The Tikinagan Chiefs’ Committee represents 30 First Nations in the northwest region of Ontario served by Tikinagan Child and Family Services – an Indigenous child and family services organization which was created by regional Chiefs in 1984, designated an as approved society in 1986, and provided with designation by the province of Ontario in 1987… To ensure culturally appropriate services, Tikinagan developed very different service delivery procedures and policies than mainstream Children’s Aid Societies. Tikinagan provides services using the Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin service model: “everyone working together to raise our children.” The model is a system of protecting and caring for children and supporting families that has been designed and endorsed by the First Nations Tikinagan serves,” Tikinagan informed.
People can find out more about reporting a child well-being concern or learn more about Tikinagan Child & Family Services’ response to COVID-19 by visiting Tikinagan.org.