Listening to our Youth
In the latter part of 2007/08, the General Authority established a Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) Team led by two former youth in care. The primary purpose was to provide opportunity for current and former youth in care to share their experiences and perspectives about the services they received and to listen to ideas from these youth about how to create ongoing and effective engagement strategies. After extensive consultations with youth through interviews and focus groups, hearing from key stakeholders such as the Office of the Children's Advocate and the Office of the Ombudsman and meeting with staff from General Authority agencies, the YES Team completed their final Phase I report in December 2009.
The Phase I Report was widely distributed across the child and family services system and was extremely well received by agencies and stakeholders. The following is a comment from the Children's Advocate about this report:
"I wish to commend the General Authority staff on your commitment to ensuring the voices of Manitoba's youth are heard in a meaningful way... I believe this report will become a benchmark document that all agencies and Authorities can learn from, and would suggest that it be shared generously with them."
The YES Team provided a detailed presentation to the General Authority Board of Directors. In response, the General Authority Board of Directors agreed to implement the following initiatives:
- provide funding for every General Authority agency and service region to hold youth engagement events
- at least once a year, host a youth retreat where current and former youth in care will provide advice and recommendations to the Authority on how to improve services
- establish a Youth Advisory Council to meet regularly with the Board of Directors
- create ongoing opportunities for youth who are less comfortable with face to face contact to share their stories, experiences and opinions
- develop a mentorship program and improve supports for youth transitioning from care upon reaching the age of majority
- continue to provide resources to support the work of the Authority YES Team
- provide every youth transitioning from care upon reaching the age of majority with the opportunity to share their experiences and perspectives on the services they received
The work of the YES Team has been recognized as innovative and a leading practice for animating the voices of youth. The YES Team has presented at a national conference on children's rights, a national youth care worker conference and a social work conference involving all of the provinces in Western Canada.
To read a copy of the full Phase I Report, click here.
To see the brochure and poster used by the YES Team to recruit current and former youth in care to participate, click here.
To contact the General Authority Youth Engagement Strategy Team,
call 204-984-9283, 1-866-803-2814 or email Jainna.firstname.lastname@example.org