VICTORIA - Young people formerly in government care will be given a chance to help current children and youth in care through a new internship program with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The six-month internships will start in the fall for five former children in care who are recent college or university graduates or are currently enrolled in a post secondary program. They will be introduced to a career in the public service by job-shadowing ministry staff and participating in projects focused on ensuring that children and youth in care have the best chance to succeed.
The interns will also have an opportunity to assist ministry staff in better understanding the needs of children and youth in care by sharing their stories and experiences about growing up in foster care.
An internship will be available in each region of the province, with an additional placement in Victoria. The announcement follows discussions with the Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks and former children in care who expressed an interest in internship opportunities with the ministry.
May 20-26 is B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week and B.C. is the only province in Canada to celebrate such a week. The week celebrates the individuality, accomplishments and talents of children and youth in care - and encourages community members from all walks of life to stand in solidarity with young people in care.
It was a youth-driven idea to create the week, which was first proclaimed in 2011. The theme was written by youth in care:
"Notice. Listen. Respect. Stand with B.C. children and youth in care."
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"These former children in care will not only get a chance to explore career options with the ministry, they'll also be given a unique opportunity to work on projects aimed at improving outcomes for current children and youth in government care."
"We want current and former young people in care to know their voices are being heard. This program is the direct result of their feedback."
Jessy Auger, former youth in care -
"It is important for former children and youth in care to have opportunities like the MCFD youth internship program because many youth struggle to find opportunities for advancement and growth once they age out of care. Lots of children who grow up outside of the foster care system have parents or family members who have connections to people who can either spark their interest in a field or offer them work experiences."
"Young people from care deserve to have the same opportunities that other children are offered. It's also important to bring their experienced insights into the system."
"I've advocated, alongside other youth, for a program such as this to help give youth like me a fighting chance to attain their dreams."
Lorena Pilgrim, interim executive director, Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks -
"We're very happy to learn about this new MCFD youth internship program for former youth in care; it's something our members have wanted for a long time. So many youth from care are eager to give back to their communities and improve the system that was responsible for their care - with the hope of improving the lives of their brothers and sisters of care."
"Because so many young people leave care with limited resources, we hope this internship will help bridge that gap and provide an important, province-wide opportunity for young people to develop the skills they need while earning a living wage."
- Approximately 8,200 children and youth are in government care in B.C, a 20 per cent decline from 2001.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development funds a range of youth services that include outreach workers, youth support workers, youth and family mediation, guardianship, safe house and emergency shelter beds, transitional housing, youth agreements, and support services to sexually exploited youth - in addition to programs like the Youth Education Assistance Fund and Agreements with Young Adults.
- The youth services budget for 2012-13 is $40 million, an increase of $14 million since 2000-01.
- The ministry works in close collaboration with several key partners on matters related to children and youth in government care - including the Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks, the Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents, the B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations and the Adoptive Families Association of B.C.
For more information on the internship program and how to apply, please email:
Check out the ministry's B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week webpage: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster/incare_week.htm
To find out more about youth programs and services offered through the ministry, go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/for_youth.htm
Learn more about the Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks: www.fbcyicn.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development