Q: What does “in care” mean?
When a youth is considered to be ‘in care’ they have become the legal responsibility of the Province of Ontario.
Q: What are the Youth Leaving Care Hearings?
The Youth Leaving Care Hearings were held on November 18th and 25th, 2011 at Queen's Park. With the support of the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, youth in and from care organized and ran the two-day event on the issues facing youth leaving care.
Q: How did this idea start?
In 2010, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman, met with a group of young people through Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County. They offered a number of great ideas on what they wanted to see change. Irwin was encouraged, but mentioned that the issues and ideas were similar to what he had been hearing since the 1980s. One of the youth paused, and then said “OK buddy, so what are you going to do about it now?”
This began a process that saw Irwin and his staff meet with other youth in and from care, including those living in group homes, foster homes and shelters, and attending YouthCAN events and meetings. They also met with 15 Ontario Ministers and Deputy Ministers, the Deputy Minister's Council, and many other allied organizations. From all of these meetings, one message came forward – loud and clear – from the youth involved: “All of you have done your best, now it’s our turn.”
The idea of the Youth Leaving Care Hearings was born!
Q: Who ran the Hearings?
Four “youth leads” and thirty volunteers, supported by the Office of the Provincial Advocate, worked together to organize and run the Hearings. They formed three teams, each supported by adult advisors: Events Team, Panels Team and Social Media Team.
Q: What was involved?
A lot of work went into making the Hearings happen:
Four “youth leads”, each of whom has distinct responsibilities and is assisted by an advisor who provides support, lead the Hearings.
- We used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to keep youth informed and involved
- We created a process for receiving submissions in multiple formats (e.g. written, video, art, etc.)
- We reviewed the submissions to find out what was important to youth and PFFs (professionals, family and friends)
- We determined what the common themes were in order to highlight them at the Hearings
- We contacted those interested to present at the Hearings
- We recruited and trained volunteers
- We rocked Queen’s Park with the Hearings on November 18th and 25th
- We wrote a report and made a video based on all of the information gained through the process.
Q: Will hearings be held in Northern Ontario?
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is excited about hearing from youth in Northern Ontario. Plans are still in the works – so stay tuned.
Q: I want to support youth in and from care to make change. What can I do?
- Spread the word about the Hearings and the Report
- Stay in touch with the Hearings Team
- Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter
- Tell us your ideas