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Youth in Transit: Growing Out of Care Transition Manual
Saskatchewan Youth in Care and Custody Network Inc. has finally completed our "Youth in Transit: Growing Out of Care" handbook! Made for youth, by youth! This handbook is meant to be used by young people--either on their own, or with the support of an adult ally, foster parent, parent, worker, teacher, etc. to ensure smoother and more successful transitions from government care.
Through funding via grants from the Community Initiatives Fund, the Saskatchewan Health Research Fund, and the Government of Saskatchewan--Ministry of Social Services, over the past several years, and with direction and push from our youth membership, SYICCN undertook the task of identifying areas of need for transitioning youth in and from government care out of care.
SYICCN gained funding from the Ministry of Social Services and the Community Initiatives Fund to design workshops with and for young people from care; these workshops were held across the Province of Saskatchewan and provided us with meaningful insight from young people within the foster care and custody systems on areas of concern, on what supports are needed for young people when transitioning out of care and how we can work to better prepare and support youth transitions from government care. It is through these interactive, youth driven, Participatory-Action-Research, focus groups that SYICCN identified ten key areas of concern for young people when taking on the task of transitioning out of care and developed the "Youth in Transit: Growing Out of Care" handbook.
In partnership with the Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute and the University of Saskatchewan, we shared our research findings and the manual via 5 Knowledge Transfers across the Province and received amazing feedback! We shared our books with a diverse audience of social workers, First Nations Child and Family Services agencies, youth and alumni from care, foster families, adult allies and more!
These books can be used by young people on their own, with a worker, friend, teacher, foster family, or any adult ally. There has been an overwhelming positive response and a high demand for this transition handbook.
"Our Dream, Our Right, Our Future: Voices from Saskatchewan's Youth in Care & Custody Network"
Research Shows Youth in Care Networks Change Child Welfare Outcomes
Our Dream, Our Right, Our Future is the title of a recently released pilot study produced by the Saskatchewan Youth in Care and Custody Network (SYICCN), working in partnership with University of Saskatchewan researcher, Marie Lovrod, to investigate how the practice of peer networking contributes to more positive outcomes for participating youth.
For more than a decade in Saskatchewan, youth in and from government care have been working together with adults from various government ministries, the Children's Advocate Office, other non-government agencies and local communities-to develop learning, communications and healing networks that sustain peer mentoring opportunities, promote youth engagement, and raise awareness about important issues affecting their lives.
While study participants recognize that there are no utopias, they see opportunities for improvements and change through the active engagement of youth working to build durable relationships among themselves and contributing to planning for government care policies and objectives.
Part of the practice of the study was to involve youth leaders and membership at every level of development and analysis, so that the report reflects the anonymous perspectives of participating youth.
A number of young people who participated in the study remarked that members of their local and provincial networks become like a second family for them. One youth alumni sums this experience up well:
"We will carry on. . . . I believe that firmly. I think people should look at us as models for families. Because, there are so many families out there that are broken and dysfunctional. And then there's us-and we're not even blood related! And we get along; we do not judge each other. It doesn't matter, your race, your age, your sex, your sexuality; it doesn't matter who you are. We're all the same inside; we all need to be loved and we all need to belong. And with the Network, we do belong. There's someone from every background here."
By contributing to public discussions about conditions faced by youth in care and reflecting on ways to improve them, networks can impact circumstances influencing youth in local communities and the wider public, well beyond their own direct in-care experiences. This contributes to hope and resiliency. As one long-term adult support remarked:
"I believe and would like others to know, that I think the values... and the outcomes of Network involvement have significant impact on the lives of young people in care, probably more than any other kind of intervention. I would like people to understand the Network as an intervention and have it valued as such."
Youth benefit, certainly, but so do the professionals who support them, by learning to be more effective in their roles.
Part of what the organization seeks to achieve is to combat stereotypes of youth in government care, which may not always recognize how resilient youth can be when supported by peers who share related experiences and adults who respect what youth can learn and teach in collaborative efforts to build more successful futures:
"The Network is doing so much good for so many people. Everyone should see it. People need to start caring more about what is helping in child welfare… If people paid attention to young people in care, to children in care and really wanted the best for them all around, the Network would be a household name."
A foster parent who participated in the study notes that her own child benefitted from her family's participation in providing care for several youth.
"I look at my son; I had been fostering already 3 or 4 years, so he was born into foster care, but I think it has given him a good base of parenting and for his relationship with wife, and I am very proud of the male he became; it has given him a good foundation. I look at how his sisters tease him with eight females. But they taught him well. It's pretty amazing what young people can teach us."
Too often, critiques of government care may influence public perceptions of youth in the system in negative ways that can construct barriers to self and social acceptance. This project, while recognizing the challenges youth experience in care, also celebrates their successes, and identifies opportunities to create better outcomes for those who need government care through the Saskatchewan Youth in Care and Custody Network.
Drawing on the research, the organization has developed several recommendations to enhance the flourishing of youth networks, reaching out to more youth with supportive programming.
For more information or inquiries please contact either Marie Lovrod, Ph.D, UofS Researcher or Stephanie Bustamante, Executive Director-SYICCN.
1.888.528.8061 (toll free)
The full report is below:
Click here to download Report Letter (.pdf)
Click here to download "Our Dream, Our Right, Our Future" Report (.pdf)
Click Here to download our 2014 Child Welfare Review(.pdf)
The SYICCN Commemorates National Child Day on November 20th, 2011
Check out these great links below for more information and what you can do to Celebrate National Child Day:
Public Health Agency of Canada