What an incredibly powerful day.
On October 24th, Fostering Change and First Call BC joined forces for an amazing day of dialogue between youth in-and-from foster care and provincial politicians, including Premier John Horgan, current Minister of Children and Family Development, Katrine Conroy, and former minister Stephanie Cadieux.
Several dozen young people with lived experience of the foster care system had the opportunity to meet with and speak to their elected officials. Free to speak directly, in their own words, about policy solutions they believe will work. They drew on their own experiences, but also those of their peers, and from the growing body of research and evidence that supports change.
We stood with pride as some of our Youth Advisory Council members – Meredith, Ashley, Rachel, Sarah – and several other young people spoke to most of our provincial cabinet, several MLA’s, both NDP and Liberal, and the Representative for Children and Youth.
And their elected officials listened.
Young people spoke about aspirational policies, about how government needs to care for young people as they would care for their own children, about the need for an integrated mental health system, and about how the government could invest $57 million in youth from care to avoid the cost of adverse outcomes – over $200 million – currently being spent.
The Premier joined in twice during the day. He and other cabinet ministers posed for selfies with young people, hugged them, and looked them in the eye. They committed to doing more and doing better.
Fostering Change was proud to be a part of this day, alongside our partners at First Call BC, and young people with experience of the foster care system.
Our goal is to make sure that youth aging out of foster care get the support and opportunities they deserve. But not by talking for them.
In the run-up to the provincial election, our #SUPPORTTHE700 campaign asked candidates to make a commitment to meet youth from foster care to hear their insights and ideas on how to make a successful start in their adult years. One hundred and forty seven candidates signed the pledge, of whom forty one were elected as MLAs.
Our aim through this work is to create the kind of day when youth from foster care feel power, voice, hope and a sense of place in their province.
This was one of those days.