Welcome to our monthly update about First Call’s advocacy work and key developments in child and youth policy in BC.
Highlights this month include:
Read on to learn more!
Yours for children and youth,
Adrienne, Helesia, Dylan, Halena, Leila, Susan, Becky, and Emily
FOSTERING CHANGE ORGANIZES SECOND 19TH BIRTHDAY PARTY ACTION
Youth from care describe 19th birthdays like falling off a cliff. Let’s change that! You (youth from care of all ages and our allies) are invited to The 19th Birthday Party We Deserve – a community celebration and public gathering where together, we’ll show that youth transitions should be filled with community, hope and love. Join us for a community feast, with a meal for youth from care (and leftovers for everyone else!), a birthday party setting you won’t forget, and a collection of youth voices for change.
If you’re a youth from care, we can provide food, bus tickets, and community at the event. This is a way for us to come together and celebrate who we are and what we’re capable of – and look forward to a future where transitions are positive. Any questions? Email Dylan Cohen and Susan Russell, Campaign Organizers, at firstname.lastname@example.org
FOSTERING CHANGE LETTER CALLS FOR EQUITABLE AYA SUPPORTS
The Fostering Change campaign sent a letter to Minister of Children and Family Development, Katrine Conroy. The letter explains that the current AYA program policy is not very flexible and is failing to provide equitable access to supports for young people from care. We recently heard an urgent concern that in some jurisdictions, social workers are being directed to tighten restrictions on AYA applications or discontinue funding mental health supports paid for with discretionary funds.
We asked her two questions:
Will your ministry create a formal set of equally-applied criteria across the province that empowers front-line workers in all service delivery areas to administer the current AYA program with flexibility and creativity, thereby meeting the specific needs of individual youth through available services?
How will your ministry ensure that youth can access the AYA program without enrollment in an accredited life skills program?
FIRST CALL ORGANIZES STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION AND WELCOMES NEW STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS
In early July, First Call held a Strategic Planning Session with our Steering Committee members, staff, and a few member organizations. By using data collected through a member survey and interviews, we discussed the goals and visions for the next 3-5 years of the coalition’s work and came up with actions to continue moving child and youth advocacy forward. We also welcomed several new members to the First Call Steering Committee:
Chris Stewart – BC Teachers’ Federation
Heather Lynch – Options Community Services (Surrey)
Jim Staton – Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Joseph Dunn, BC Council for Families
Shawn Bayes, Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver
Our thanks to all who took time to contribute to this process so far, and we look forward to keeping you posted about the results from our Strategic Planning process later this fall.
LIVING WAGE FOR FAMILIES CAMPAIGN UPDATE
In July, the Living Wage for Families Campaign celebrated certifying 157 Living Wage Employers across the province, which represents over 21,600 workers making a fair wage in their community. Read our news release here for more information.
This month we also shared more resources for local governments looking for information about the living wage. In May we held a webinar that covered what the living wage is, how it applies to employers, and how local governments can become certified with our campaign. The webinar slides are now live on our website.
TWO LAW FOUNDATION GRANTS: CHILD LABOUR AND CHILDREN’S RIGHT TO HOUSING
We are happy to announce the receipt of two Law Foundation of BCgrant applications to support First Call’s advocacy work. One grant will support our work with government on the new child labour standards regulations to be developed by the Ministry of Labour under the amended Employment Standards Act, as well as help us build more public awareness on this issue. The second grant will support an exploration of how the law can better protect children’s right to housing, particularly looking at low income and other vulnerable child and youth populations. This project includes collecting testimonials and evidence from families with children and from youth who have experienced discrimination in obtaining housing. If you are interested in getting involved in either project, please email Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Coordinator, or Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, though email@example.com.
LETTER FROM MINISTERS KATRINE CONROY AND KATRINA CHEN
On July 16 2019, Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy and Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen responded to our May 27, 2019 letter that reinforced the call for a more urgent focus on the issue of fair compensation for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) in government’s work to develop a universal child care system for BC.
They emphasized that they understand our concerns regarding the compensation of ECEs and recognized that their ongoing initiatives are a first step in a long-term commitment to improve supports for the child care sector. The letter ends with assurance that our feedback will be considered as part of their evaluation process for the Recruitment and Retention Strategy initiatives, and will be used in developing their next steps.
FIRST CALL OUT AND ABOUT
Helesia spent a day presenting at the Women’s Labour Convention on using research data for policy advocacy. She spoke alongside Sharon Gregson from the Coalition for Child Care Advocates of BC/$10aDay Campaign and Shannon Daub from the Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives-BC to a room full of trade union women.
Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer, attended the Unite Here Local 40 rally at City Hall to end sexual harassment in the hospitality industry in Vancouver. She was also a guest on the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Vancouver Hub podcast recording about structural poverty, along with BC Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson.