TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth released his 2013-14 Annual Report, highlighting his Office's key accomplishments in advocating for and supporting young people under his mandate.
"We continue to see significant gaps between government policy and well-intended initiatives and their ultimate impact on vulnerable children and youth," said Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate. "To help close this gap, my Office has launched a number of initiatives aimed at elevating the voices of young people. This annual report is a tribute to young people who bring so much courage, wisdom and energy to everything they do. It is my privilege to work with them so that together we can improve their lives," said Elman.
The 2013-14 Annual Report highlights include:
- Launched the "Feathers of Hope" youth forum in Thunder Bay which mobilized more than 135 First Nations youth to address current challenges and realities living in Northern Ontario's remote and fly-in communities. The result was a comprehensive action plan that was presented to the provincial and federal government, First Nations leaders, and other decision-makers. Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan was released simultaneously at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in Thunder Bay where the Feathers of Hope forum was held.
- The Office has partnered with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to establish the Youth Leaving Care Working Group to build an action plan for change. The Working Group was formed to help advance recommendations made in the ground-breaking report My Real Life Book, based on the personal experiences of young people living in Ontario's child welfare system.
- Tabled recommendations at a number of Coroner's Inquests (including the Jeffrey Baldwin and Ashley Smith inquests) to better protect vulnerable children and youth within Ontario's systems of care.
- Launched the "I Have Something to Say" initiative - an important first step in elevating the voices of young people with special needs. For the first phase of this initiative, we are engaging young people with special needs to gather their stories with the goal of presenting their messages to decision-makers.
- In response to the provincial government's investments in mental health and addictions, the Advocate's Office prepared a report entitled, Putting Youth in the Picture. The report captures the ideas of 46 young people and their response to the province's approach to mental health.
- Advocated for changes to Bill 179 (now known as Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability Act, 2014) to enhance the Advocate's legislative powers to better protect vulnerable children and youth under his mandate.
For a copy of the Annual Report, visit: 2013-14 Annual Report
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children.
The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
SOURCE: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Eva Lannon & Associates, [email protected] or 416.300.9721