Written by Yuan Barnes, a member of the Foundation’s Young Person’s Advisory Council and former youth in care
If you haven’t heard or read anywhere yet May 14th is now Ontario’s Children and Youth in Care Day (CYIC). It means so much that Ontario MPPs unanimously voted to have the bill be passed, allowing May 14th to officially become dedicated to us (former) young people in care.
Yesterday, co-ambassador Tamia Kerem and I had the pleasure and privilege of speaking with Irwin Elman who is Ontario’s chief advocate at the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. He’s worked passionately in the realm of child welfare for decades. As I’ve experienced with him before, the conversation was eye-opening, in-depth and authentic.
I’m a former Crown Ward, which means that the province of Ontario was my legal parent/guardian. I’ve experienced some of the best and worst parts of growing up in foster care.
Irwin reminded me that CYIC came into being because of the Youth Leaving Care hearings that happened at Queen’s Park in 2011. Young people from all over the province joined together to lobby MPPs to change the way the provincial government cares for its kids.
Young people were given an opportunity to share their stories and propose changes to improve provincial programs that serve a group (vulnerable youth) who are typically forgotten.
As Tamia, Irwin and I chatted, we all agreed that marking May 14th as a day to celebrate young people in and from care was a huge milestone. It gives people like me, who’ve grown up in foster care a voice instead of invisibility. But Children & Youth in Care Day is just one leg of Ontario’s journey to becoming a leading pioneer to help kids from dark pasts find their way to brighter futures.
I feel so thankful to not feel forgotten or invisible. I’m so grateful for those who read, watch and listen to my story and other stories like it — particularly as we speak as ambassadors for the Children’s Aid Foundation.
Thank you for caring, reading, and sharing. #five14