Thanks to the generosity of our donors, in a year full of uncertainty, job insecurity, financial strain, and isolation, we have been able to help youth transitioning out of care as well as child- and youth-serving agencies across Canada as they respond to the urgent and changing needs of vulnerable children, youth, and families who have experienced the child welfare system and are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada team was able to quickly pivot our efforts in order to support young people during this uncertain time. The first phase of our COVID-19 Response Program was focused on supporting Former Youth in Care, and we were able to reach over 1,900 of young people in a short time.
The second phase of our Response Program sees us continuing to support youth and now includes providing support for children and their families. A few months ago, we reached out to to Canadian child- and youth-serving agencies through an expression of interest process, inviting them to share the needs of the young people they serve and their interest in receiving funding from our COVID-19 Response Program. The response from across the country was swift as these agencies, already working hard to support children and youth in and from care, are being stretched to accommodate the needs of their populations with the increasing challenges of the pandemic. We are happy to report that so far we are reaching children, youth, and families through 51 agencies across the country.
We want to share with you some of the ways our partners are responding to the needs of children, youth, and families in their communities:
• Meeting basic needs by providing essentials such as grocery gift cards, food boxes, clothing, baby supplies,
personal hygiene products, masks, etc.
• Providing mental health supports (via online or safely distanced sessions)
• Addressing emergency needs faced by families such as medication and housing assistance
• Providing employment assistance
• Delivering enriching resources for children including art supplies and technology to help with online learning
• Establishing scholarships and providing tutoring services
• Running safely distanced workshops for children to promote physical, social, educational, and cultural activities
• Providing respite services for families at risk
• Assisting with transportation needs
• Training front line staff in crisis support and trauma informed practice
• Expanding kinship services to help children stay with their families
• Operating peer programs for youth
• Supporting youth who are transitioning out of care
By supporting our COVID-19 Response program and donating to either the COVID-19 Support Fund for Former Youth in Care or the COVID-19 Child & Family Support Fund, you are supporting all of these programs and services and more.
Here is an example of feedback we are hearing from young people who have received support:
“The COVID-19 youth support fund helped me significantly through this stressful time. When the pandemic broke out I was extremely anxious and stressed about my ability to work. Health protocols for COVID-19 prevented me from working at multiple jobs. It also made it very difficult to pick up shifts. I was anxious and stressed as I do not have a family to help support me. Accessing the funding helped significantly ease some of the stress and financial hardship that I had experienced due to the impact of COVID-19.
I am unable to express how grateful I am for the funding and, to all the people who have worked hard to help secure funding. Many former youth in care are like me. They may not have support if they are unable to work and to pay their bills. Resultantly, this can have significant impacts on a individuals mental and physical well-being let alone being able to afford to live.
Growing up in care I faced years of instability. I bounced from home to home. Now, living on my own, one thing I have craved and worked hard to achieve is stability in my life. COVID-19 made me feel anxious about the impact it would have on the stability that I had worked so hard to create. I hope other former youth in care can have the ability to access the funding that I did, as it helped me drastically through this difficult time.” – SARA, former youth in care
THANK YOU to everyone who has supported the COVID-19 Response Program so far. As the pandemic continues, we know it will also continue to put strain on the children, youth, and families we serve. We will maintain our fundraising efforts in order to respond to the needs of these vulnerable populations, and will share additional updates from the program in the coming months.