Welcome to the January monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key actions you can take to support children and youth in BC.
First off, there’s still time to purchase tickets to our annual fundraising gala with Trevor Linden and youth leaders coming up in two weeks on February 11th!
We’ve had a really busy start to the year. We co-published a new report on single parents, welfare and work; we spoke truth to power with a hard-hitting OpEd in response to the Plecas report on child protection services; we’ve continued our correspondence with MSDSI Minster Stillwell about Family maintenance services; our campaign to repeal the federal spanking law is gaining momentum, and last but not least, our Living Wage Campaign celebrated a big win with the City of Port Coquitlam voting to become a living wage employer!
We also want to introduce you to Stephanie and Christian, our two new fabulous communications and development volunteers!
Read on to learn more about these exciting developments for children and youth.
Yours for children and youth,
Julie, Sarena, Adrienne and Deanna
FIRST CALL FUNDRAISING GALA WITH TREVOR LINDEN – FEBRUARY 11, 2016
We are excited to share with you that Trevor Linden will be joining First Call in celebrating young people and advocates working to improve our foster care system at our Annual Fundraising Gala on Thursday, February 11th, 2016! We are partnering with the Vancouver Foundation’s Fostering Change initiative and the Trevor Linden Foundation to highlight this important issue.
Our annual fundraising galas are an occasion to celebrate our child and youth advocacy as well as to raise much-needed funds to ensure we can continue to put BC’s children and youth first.
We hope you can join us for an evening filled with good food, good company, and the voices of inspiring and resilient youth and a valued community leader.
WE CO-PUBLISHED A NEW REPORT ON SINGLE PARENTS, WELFARE AND WORK!
SPARC BC, First Call, Simon Fraser University and the Single Mothers’ Alliance have released a new report, Walking the Line to Put Their Families First: Lone Mothers Navigating Welfare and Work in British Columbia, that shares the stories and experiences of single-parent families and the struggles they face in meeting their everyday needs.
Income assistance rates in British Columbia have not increased since 2007, which means that single parents and their children who rely on this form of assistance continue to fall further behind as the cost of housing and other basic essentials continue to increase.
The report highlights the need for the government to re-visit many of the policy changes that were introduced in early 2001 and that robbed families and children of the chance to realize their full potential.
While the provincial government has made small incremental changes at the policy level since that time, there is still the need to look at the policies and the choices made to ensure that all families have the support that they need to give their children the best possible start in life.
FIRST CALL RESPONDS TO PLECAS’ MCDF REPORT ON CHILD PROTECTION
January 5, 2016, the Province published a response by First Call’s Adrienne Montani to the Bob Plecas report on the child protection service in BC delivered through the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
In his report, Mr. Plecas asks us to feel empathy for the difficult jobs government and the ministry have in managing budgets and competing demands, but to accept the deaths and critical injuries of abused children as unavoidable, even expected. This is an appalling view that attempts to lower our expectations for the children and youth who need our help.
Our past failures to keep children safe should drive urgent attempts to prevent another youth in care’s suicide or delay in responding to an abused child, not complacency. Children shouldn’t have to depend on oil revenues to be safe.
Vancouver Sun: Monday, December 14: Children held hostage to economy
Globe and Mail: Plecas Review, Part 1: Decision Time
JOINT FOLLOW-UP LETTER TO MSDSI MINISTER STILWELL RE: FAMILY MAINTENANCE SERVICE
After the huge win in 2015 with the end of the clawback of child support payments from single parents on income and disability assistance, First Call has been monitoring how the new changes are being rolled out and their affects on single parents involved with Family Maintenance Services (FMS). This is to ensure that there are no un-intended negative consequences as a result of this positive change, especially regarding parents who still which to receive government support in ensuring they receive child support payments.
As part of this ongoing monitoring, on December 18, 2015, First Call, West Coast LEAF and the Single Mothers’ Alliance BC sent an email to Michelle Stilwell, the BC minister of social development and social innovation, regarding Family Maintenance Services. This email follows up on Minister Stilwell’s March 23, 2015 response to Adrienne Montani’s March 2, 2015 letter.
In the letter we asked whether the Ministry anticipates any changes to the following for the 2016/17 fiscal year:
- the eligibility requirements for FMS
- the specific services provided through FMS
- the current FMS delivery model
- the funding allocation for FMS
We will keep you informed as our dialogue with government continues and we learn more information!
CORINNE’S QUEST TO REPEAL SPANKING LAW GAINS MOMENTUM
For many years First Call has called for the repeal of Section 43 of the criminal code that allows for the physical punishment of children. Last year the campaign was reinvigorated under the banner of Corinne’s Quest.
Christmas 2015 was an especially busy time for Kathy Lynn, the chair of Corinne’s Quest. Kathy Lynn hit the airwaves and newsstands across Canada, garnering much momentum for the campaign.
Corinne’s Quest select media:
CBC TV: Power & Politics, Kathy Lynn of Corinne’s Quest in a debate with Diane Watts of Real Women
CBC Radio: Spanking Law
Globe and Mail: Liberals agree to revoke spanking law in response to TRC call
Globe and Mail: Spanking: Time to get rid of an archaic form of discipline
Maclean’s: The case against spanking
LIVING WAGE COMES TO PORT COQUITLAM CITY HALL
On December 7, 2015 the City of Port Coquitlam’s finance committee voted unanimously to become a Living Wage Employer.
“We want to be leaders. We need our residents to be paid fairly to live and prosper,” Mayor Greg Moore told the Tri-City News.
Deanna Ogle, campaign organizer for Living Wage for Families Campaign, told the local paper she was looking forward to working with the city to ensure it’s realized. “This is a small cost to the city but a big benefit for families. There are a few families who will really see the benefit because of Port Coquitlam’s leadership.”
Since 2009 First Call has hosted the Living Wage for Families Campaign to address the high proportion of children who live with working parents whose wages are insufficient to lift their families out of poverty.
Tri-City News: Living wage to come to Port Coquitlam city hall
MEET FIRST CALL VOLUNTEERS STEPHANIE AND CHRISTIAN!
Stephanie recently moved to Vancouver from Los Angeles. She has been working with youth and communities since she was a teenager when she helped found the PEACE Project, a peer crisis line and healthy relationship workshop series in Montana. While in LA, Stephanie worked for various youth literacy and health organizations, working to empower vulnerable communities.
As the first Community School Coordinator in California with Los Angeles Education Partnership, Stephanie worked to develop a grassroots model partnering cradle-to-college stakeholders (schools, agencies, parents, youth, and businesses) to ensure youth thrive. This collaboration helped build trust amongst schools and community supports, opened channels of communication allowing families and youth to receive enrichment and intervention services, and enabled educators (and families) to optimize learning. This model has now spread throughout LA and the West Coast, providing supports through schools for families in need and leveraging a collective voice in education reform.
Now relocated to green and lush Vancouver, Stephanie is excited to support her new community.
Ever since Christian heard about the $10aDay Child Care Plan while completing his ECE diploma, he’s become passionate about supporting children, youth and their families and communities as a whole. This passion motivated him to continue his studies and he is currently finishing his Bachelor in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria.
Christian has always wanted to volunteer more and after his experience volunteering for an organization supporting children, youth and family refugees in Vienna, Austria, he was inspired to start volunteering back in his home town, Vancouver.
He is grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer for the First Call Coalition and he’s excited to gain more experience, knowledge and skills from the weekly tasks and the wonderful First Call staff.
FIRST CALL IN THE NEWS
Tri-City News: Livng wage to come to Port Coquitlam city hall
CFRB – Toronto news radio talk show with Mark Towhey on Corinne’s Quest
CBC Maritime Noon: Should spanking be criminalized?
100 Mile Free Press: The sad South Cariboo statistic
Nanaimo Daily News: Spanking could soon be against the law
24 Hours: Stop physical punishment of kids: group
New Westminster Record: New West school board backs anti-spanking campaign
CKNW AM (AM980): Is it time to ban spanking in Canada?
CBC Power & Politics: Spanking law debate
CBC Radio Windsor: Spanking law debate
Vancouver Sun: Monday, December 14: Children held hostage to economy
Vancouver Sun: Trish Garner and Adrienne Montani: Action on poverty long overdue
UPCOMING FIRST CALL EVENTS
Next First Call Coalition Meeting
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 9:15 – 11:30 am. Refreshments served at 9 am.
Meetings are open to the public and phone participation is available. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
BC Teachers’ Federation, 550 W. 6th Ave., Vancouver.
More information, a copy of the agenda and previous meeting minutes can be found here.
Next Early Childhood Development Roundtable Meeting
Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
If you are interested in participating, please RSVP by emailing email@example.com
United Way of the Lower Mainland, 4543 Canada Way, Burnaby.
More information and previous meeting minutes can be found here.
FIRST CALL PUBLICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE
- January 2016: Report on Single Parents, Welfare and Work: SPARC BC, First Call, SFU and Single Mothers’ Alliance Call for Change
- January 2016: Letter to BC Minister of Health Terry Lake Re: National Pharmacare Plan
- January 2016: MCFD Minister Cadieux Responds to 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card Letter
- January 2016: Adrienne Montani: Kids shouldn’t have to depend on oil revenues to be safe
- December 2015: Letter to the Editor: Children held hostage to economy
- December 2015: Follow-up Letter to MSDSI Minister Stilwell Re Family Maintenance Service
- December 2015: Campaign 2000 Letter to Finance Ministers Re: Welfare Clawbacks
- December 2015: Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letters to ministers re: children and youth
- December 2015: 2016 BC Budget Recommendations from Finance Committee re: children and youth
- November 2015: 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card
- November 2015: 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card – Letter to Premier and Opposition Leader
- November 2015: 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card – Letter to BC MPs
- November 2015: 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card – Letter to BC MLAs