Our Youth Speak Out Program (YSO) works with children and youth in/from the child welfare system to identify, help heal and share their lived experience to better their communities and provide more resources and support to the generations of children / youth that enter care after them.
YSO participants are still in foster care, have been adopted, or have aged out of the system without permanent families.
YSO participants are educated on civic engagement and CYPCC works with them to develop their leaderships skills. Our YSO program empowers children/youth to be more involved in and feel apart of their communities. Working with local adult supports, we prepare Youth Speak Out members for media interviews and teach them how to participate in panels where they can tell legislators, policymakers, social workers, family court lawyers and judges, potential adoptive families, and other decision-makers what it’s like to be in foster care and why they need stable relationships with people who will stick with them long after they turn 16, 18, and 21.
YSO participants speak on a wide range of topics related to their experience or time in care, including but not limited to: Apprehension, Life in foster/group care, Aging Out, Experiences with Homelessness, Poverty, Intergenerational Trauma, Addictions, Victimization, Anti-Human Trafficking, Colonialism, Inequity, Permanency, Kinship and Customary Care, Education and Employment.
WHAT OUR YOUTH SAY
"I never knew there were so many people who'd gone through the same things."
— Alisha - Youth Speak Out Training, Edmonton, November 2013
We have Youth Speak Out teams across Canada: Ottawa, ON; Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, AB; Saskatoon, SK; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Guelph, ON; Moncton, NB; Fredericton, NB; Iqaluit, NU; Toronto, ON; Richmond Hill, ON; and Thunderbay, ON.
So far, they have spoken on Parliament Hill, at Queen’s Park, at the New Brunswick legislature, to social workers, adoptive/foster parents, teachers, prospective child and youth workers and social workers, deputy ministers, provincial ministers, city councillors, the Governor General, directors of child welfare, child and youth advocates, and Federal committees including the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA). Their voices and their experiences have begun to change policy and practice.
Developing and writing their life story is also a powerful and therapeutic tool. A number of Youth Speak Out Team members have built strong networks of support for each other, and have some have found families, or at least one stable connection or relationship as a result of this work. Others have gone on to pursue their education and careers in social work, mental health, government and the law – all with the aim of serving future children/youth involved with the child welfare system. Without exception, team members reported improved self-esteem, raised self-expectations, and their parents and workers noted improved behaviors. Their commitment and the positive outcomes have been sustained over many years.
Members of the team are now available to speak to potential adoptive parents, social workers, judges, lawyers, educators, politicians, policymakers, and all those interested in permanency for children and youth in the child welfare system.
We always welcome new children/youth to join our YSO Teams/Trainings. If you know of someone, or your local child/youth in care group could benefit from YSO training, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.