Children and youth in care are just like all other young people. But despite their incredible diversity, resilience and talents, young people growing up with the government as their parent face unique obstacles and often poor outcomes.
Young people are taken into care by our governments, and by extension, all of us. Children and youth in foster homes, group homes, mental health, addiction and custody centres are everyone's children.
Are you striving to be an ally to young people in care? Here are some youth-developed ideas that work all year round. Stay connected to the youth in care movement on Facebook and on all social media with hashtags:
List created by Fed youth in and from care members as seen in the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe1bEEsrHng
1. GET INFORMED. There are approximately 8,400 young people in care right now in B.C. alone. Learn about the realities facing young people in care. As much as possible, get your information directly from young people who share their voices in many places, including in reports, their own projects (writing, video, social media, blogs), the media and at conferences. They are the best experts on the realities of being in care and what needs changing. If you know young people in or from care, ask them what they think!
2. CHALLENGE STIGMA. Being in and from care comes with a painful social stigma; challenge the notion that young people in care are all the same—‘criminals,’ ‘addicts,’ ‘lost causes’ or ‘drains on society. ’ All they do have in common is their survival of their experience in the system. Young people need adult allies who speak up in conversations and write letters to papers and politicians. Check out FosteringChange.ca
3. RAISE AWARENESS. Join the online campaign and click “like.” Share articles and reports posted here and elsewhere on the needs and issues of young people from care. Write letters to the editor and politicians, and use any platform you have to bring attention to these important, underreported issues! Celebrate and promote B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week each year on Facebook!
4. VOLUNTEER. Find a local mentorship role with children and youth from care, a youth in care network, or other organization that supports youth in and from care. If none exists in your community, work with young people to start one! In B.C., you can volunteer with the youth-driven Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks (FBCYICN) and its locals: http://fbcyicn.ca/programs/local-development/
5. CONNECT. Bring young people from care to supportive organizations and networks of their peers and allies, and get your friends and colleagues involved as allies. In B.C., connect youth and allies to FBCYICN. You can find out what’s going on around Canada and around the world. Show young people opportunities to connect with the communities of their choosing which could include social justice, queer, arts, extended family, and Aboriginal and other cultural communities.
6. VOTE. Our governments are guardians to children and youth in care, so consider which candidates you feel would listen to young people and make good decisions on their behalf them. Ask young people from care what they think and encourage them to vote, too!
7. DONATE. If you have the means, donate to bursaries and other programs for youth in and from care. Many young people rely on education bursaries since they face so many barriers to post-secondary education — help eliminate the financial ones!
8. BE A CHAMPION. Celebrate the young people from care you meet and cheer them on. Share all the positive stories of young people doing amazing things in their communities: Identify things about young people that you love and encourage their strengths – they get pretty tired of being told what they are doing wrong. There are now annual celebrations in several communities; work to establish an annual celebration in your community! In B.C., celebrate BC CHILD AND YOUTH IN CARE WEEK each year in June!! You can also Pledge your Support for youth exiting care here
9. FOSTER or ADOPT! If you can provide a healthy and supportive home, we need more great homes for children and youth in care to live and yours just might be the perfect place for someone out there! Thousands are hoping to be adopted well into their late teens. In B.C., find out more info at: bcfosterparents.ca