Manitoba marks International Day of the Girl

- by Allison Dunfield

Computer Coding Event held Wednesday
The Manitoba government is recognizing International Day of the Girl with a girls’ coding event at the University of Winnipeg, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, announced today.
“By observing International Day of the Girl, we are increasing awareness of the inequality girls face girls worldwide based on their gender,” said Squires. “I want to ensure girls in Manitoba have access to all the tools necessary to help achieve their goals in life.”
The United Nations first declared International Day of the Girl in December 2011. It is a day to celebrate and recognize the achievements of girls, while committing to removing the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. The minister encouraged individuals, organizations and agencies from across Manitoba to hold events and celebrate in their own way.
The Manitoba government is partnering with the University of Winnipeg and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg to present an after-school computer coding event at the University of Winnipeg’s Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre. It will introduce 25 girls in Grades 6 to 8 to coding in an interactive session to inspire them to learn about this specialized and emerging field, the minister said.
“By providing young women with an opportunity to engage with technology in a fun and interactive environment, participants will discover education and career opportunities they may never have considered or thought possible,” said Ron Brown, president and CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg. “This is an incredible opportunity to inspire girls to dream of building, leading and creating their own futures.”
The minister noted it is important to provide girls with early exposure to computer science to spark their interest in that area of study.
The minister and chair of the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council, Dr. Jeannette Montufar, are also hosting a lunch-hour gathering at the Legislative Building for 20 girls in Grades 5 to 7 from École Marie-Anne-Gaboury. The girls will be treated to a pizza lunch and learn about the history of International Day of the Girl and important milestones in women’s rights. An informal discussion and tour of the minister’s office will follow.

 

Well-known former foster child publishes book on decoding teen behaviour

- by Allison Dunfield

Well-known speaker and former foster youth Josh Shipp has published a new book, called The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans.

The book is promoted as a "direct, no fluff, unflinching guide to decoding your teen's behaviour, as well as the practical, proven and hands-on strategies for re-establishing peace and navigating through even the most triggering, 'Do I really need to talk about this?' topics.

Find out more at http://joshshipp.com/book/.





 

AFM announces youth video contest

- by Allison Dunfield

AFM invites youth to capture what they think youth need to know about cannabis in a 30 to 90 second video. This contest encourages youth to explore messaging about cannabis.

Contestants have the opportunity to win merchandise credit of $500, $300 or $200 and bragging rights for themselves and their school or group. Early bird and Most Likes prizes are also available!

Please take any opportunities you have to let youth know about the contest. Youth can submit videos until April 20, 2018. Contest is open to all Manitoba residents 18 years of age or younger. Winners to be announced early May 2018.

Feel free to check out the website and view past entries and winners at www.whatyouthneedtoknow.ca - watch for updates! For more information, contact: AFM Youth Services at: (204) 944-6254.

 

Province proclaims Protection of Children (Information Sharing Act)

- by Allison Dunfield

Families Minister Scott Fielding announced the proclamation of The Protecting Children (Information Sharing) Act and its regulation on Sept. 15.

This new legislation allows provincial government departments, organizations and others who provide services to at-risk and vulnerable children to collect, use and share personal information (including personal health information) about supported children, their parents and legal guardians.

“Every second counts when a child’s health or safety is at risk, and that’s why our government is following through on our commitment to remove barriers to share information,” Fielding said during an event at Specialized Services for Children and Youth on Notre Dame Avenue on Sept. 15. “Service providers can now share critical information and speak openly so vulnerable children receive the help they need in a timely, co-ordinated manner.”

Fielding noted the act covers government departments, provincially funded organizations and others that are approved to provide services to at-risk and supported children. All are authorized to share information, including personal health information. The minister noted personal information can only be shared without consent when it is in the child’s best interests.

“Many supported children face complex challenges and struggle with more than one issue,” said Fielding. “This initiative will allow providers to collaborate and create a comprehensive plan to address the varied needs of each child, whether it involve treatment for substance abuse, protection from domestic violence or a targeted education plan while in foster care.”

The term “supported children” is defined under the legislation as children who in the care of, or connected with:
• child and family services,
• youth justice,
• mental health and addictions services,
• disability services,
• individual education plans in the school system, and
• victim support and family conciliation services.

“We are very supportive of this new act and are confident it will help us, as agencies, ensure children are receiving what they need to keep them safe and to help them thrive,” said John Leggat, president and CEO, St.Amant. “For too long, privacy regulations have prevented organizations from sharing information in the best interests of the children we are protecting. This act is going to help us do our jobs better and is ultimately a win for the children we support.”

Fielding noted the act helps create an environment where service providers are able to collaborate and better share critical information to protect the safety and well-being of children. The authority to share information is in addition to terms under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and The Personal Health Information Act.

The Manitoba government introduced the act in June 2016 in response to a key recommendation made by commissioner Ted Hughes in the inquiry report on the death of Phoenix Sinclair.

The province has developed a new public website to support service providers and trustees, who will have new authority under this act, as well as information for parents and legal guardians of supported children and can be found at www.manitoba.ca/informationsharingact.


 

How technology can streamline child welfare, better serve youth

- by Allison Dunfield

Over the past 18 months, four foster care “hackathons” have explored how technology could be optimized to streamline child welfare systems and better serve youth and families, says the Chronicle of Social Change.

During that time, events in Washington, D.C., New York City, the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles have been instrumental in spurring changes to the child welfare systems there.

The hackathon series kicked off in May 2016 at the first-ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and foster care non-profit Think of Us, the two-day event brought together child welfare leaders, nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, foster youth and leaders from the technology sector to “hack” the foster care system’s most pressing challenges.

Hackathons – like the foster youth policy and technology hackathons – have spurred a new wave of civic engagement, and these collaborations between the technology and public sector can move the dial on social issues. In an article featured in the Review of Policy Research journal, authors Peter Johnson and Pamela Robinson examine how hackathons, by working with open data and examining government services, can act as a form of civic engagement to spur change.

Please visit the Chronicle of Change website to read the rest of the article.


 

Thirty per cent of U.S. foster children being raised by grandparents

- by Allison Dunfield

A new report by Generations United in the United States found that "grandparents and other relatives who step in to care for children play an important role in mitigating trauma, which children in the child welfare system experience at starkly higher rates than the general population."

In all, there has been a six per cent increase in the number of foster children being cared for by grandparents in the United States since 2008.


Please read the rest of the report here.

 

Former foster youth develops online course to help foster children

- by Allison Dunfield

A former foster youth has created an innovative tool for professionals in the child welfare system through his online course, Fostering Resilience.

Michael Place, now an international public speaker and child rights activist, recently launched Fostering Resilience to help professionals identify and foster resilient behaviors in children.

Read the rest of the story here.


 

Local organization helps fill backpacks for children in care

- by Allison Dunfield

Read on about local efforts in Pembina Valley to bring comfort kits to children in care. Other organizations also help with comfort kits for children in care, such as the Ted and Loretta Rogers Foster Care Transition Program.

 

Ideas for change from 12 former foster youths

- by Allison Dunfield

This year's set of policy recommendations from 12 young people in the Foster Youth Internship Program operated by the U.S.-based Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute focuses on several themes, including improvements to educational opportunities for foster youth, empowerment, well-being and better access to information.

Read more on what the young people had to say in the Chronicle of Social Change article.

 

New research looks at how toxic stress can affect children`s health

- by Allison Dunfield

Research has increasingly shown how ongoing stress during early childhood — from grinding poverty, neglect, parents' substance abuse and other adversity — can smoulder beneath the skin, harming kids' brains and other body systems.

But many mental health experts are making an effort to help children cope with stress before it reaches the toxic level and are increasingly adopting what is called "trauma-informed" care.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

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