Kinship Care Petition in the News
Our Kinship Care Petition https://www.change.org/p/premier-christy-clark-improve-support-for-kinship-caregivers - has received some early media buzz:
CBC Early EditionRadio Interview - http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2693091957/
Our GRG Line Advocate Dennis Nkojo also did interviews with other CBC outlets and the Pulse FM.
Grandparents Day Strolls
September 11th - Now Across the Province:
In New Westminser Join us at our 2nd Annual Grandparents Day Festival and Stroll -
In Prince George:
Find out how you can get involved at: http://grgstroll.ca/
"Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Telling Our Stories" - Groundbreaking Documentary to be Launched Feb 10,11,12th.
The documentary Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Telling Our Stories will provide a glimpse into the realities faced by several grandparent led families from across BC. These grandparents didn’t plan to be full time caregivers at this later stage in their lives. Their stories are varied, but many of the threads are the same: loss, isolation, grief, hardship, love and determination. The grandchildren are their priority and they need and deserve, love, stability and all the support possible to ensure they can succeed in life. “This documentary will make you laugh, make you cry, and we hope, make you think.”
Launching week of Family Day across the province - check out this trailer, that gives a glimpse into one of the stories. Details of launch below.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Interview
Jane Bouey of Media Mornings interviews Vanessa Iafolla, lead researcher, working on the first nation-wide study of the financial literacy needs of people who are raising biological relatives (usually grandchildren).
Family Day Statement 2015
Family Day 2015 -
Family Day raises complex emotions for many of us across BC. At Parent Support Services Society we hear stories every day from and about parents, grandparents, children and youth and too many of those stories are steeped in poverty, loss, injustice, discrimination, isolation and struggle. We are good at searching out any supports that might be available, however, the big problems are not possible for us to solve.
Child poverty continues at a high and inexcusable rate in BC; Aboriginal children and youth still make up far too great a percentage of children in foster care; child care costs make it impossible for many parents to work outside the home; and that home is less and less affordable. Single parents and single grandparents raising grandchildren, remain the most at risk of being caught in poverty.
This week, in recognition of Family Day, we are launching our first documentary film – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Telling Our Stories, in Burnaby, Nanaimo, Prince George and Victoria. It’s a hard film to watch and inspiring at the same time. These amazing grandparents show what determination, love, and persistence can accomplish when the need arises. They do their very best to make sure the children are safe and secure with family and they do this with very limited access to financial or social support.
Parenting is always about tears and laughter, worry and joy, and it’s definitely about hard work. Grandparents, and other relatives, take on this enormous responsibility when the parents are unable to parent. Everyone in a parenting role deserves recognition for the vitally important jobs they perform every day and especially on Family Day. We hope that by next Family Day we can celebrate a reduction in poverty and new supports and awareness that bring equal inclusion and opportunity for success for all children and families in BC and beyond.
Director: Kinship Care & Advocacy
Parent Support Services Society of BC
Important News for Families
BC Budget 2015
BC Budget was presented on Feb 17, 2015. One of the good news pieces: "The government has decided to fully exempt child support payments from income and disability assistance calculations," de Jong said while presenting a budget overview to reporters and stakeholders gathered at the Victoria Conference Centre. Below is an informative article on the Budget:
The BC Government's webpage on Budget 2015 - http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2015/default.htm
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - CCPA -BC's analysis -
Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds
Letter to Sun in Response to Column in Defense of Corporal Punishment.
September 18, 2014
Parent Support Services Society of BC is alarmed and deeply disappointed that the Vancouver Sun chose to print, on the front page, a column by a sports reporter that defends the use of corporal punishment.
The Adrian Peterson incident is an incredible opportunity for the Sun to educate readers and provide resources on constructive discipline, healthy parenting and the laws that protect children. Instead you chose to give a platform that promotes corporal punishment as correcting “behaviour in the short term” and making a “lasting impression, not of violence but of What Not To Do From Now On.”
We know parents can struggle to find ways to “correct” their child’s inappropriate behavior. Spanking and strapping can happen in emotional, stressful or frightening situations, where everything may seems out of control, and as parents, we can feel caught in the moment with seemingly no other options. Violence cannot ever be an option. Just because we may have been raised with corporal punishment and “survived” does not ever make it acceptable.
Corporal punishment, is abuse; child abuse is illegal. We encourage your readers to seek out the many excellent resources available to assist all caregivers with alternative, non-threatening, thoughtful, caring and productive discipline strategies. We encourage the Sun to take a clear stand against all forms of child abuse.
Carol Ross, Executive Director
Creating a world where children and families are nurtured, valued, and safe.
Celebrating 40 Years of Helping Families
PSS and GRG’s in the NEWS!
Message from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children and Youth
Jan. 15, 2015
They say when life gets busy, it’s always a good idea to take a step back, and reflect. This seems like the perfect opportunity to do that and to bring you up to date on what’s been happening at my Office.
The pace of the last several months at RCY has been brisk, to say the least. After a summer of alarming news headlines about children in care and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), we went straight into a fall with more tragedies and difficult cases, many of which gained high profiles in the media and involved numerous calls to my Office.
It was in this atmosphere of tension that I released my report, The Thin Front Line: MCFD staffing crunch leaves social workers over-burdened, B.C. children under-protected. The results of this staffing review were troubling. It showed that there are fewer front-line child protection workers in B.C. now than there were in 2002, yet the demands and complexities of the work have increased. Among my five recommendations in the report, I called for government to increase MCFD’s budget to fully staff front-line child protection work.
In November, I teamed up with Elizabeth Denham, B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, to release a report on cyberbullying. We consulted with youth of diverse backgrounds and found that they are worried about cyberbullying, but don’t feel they’re getting enough help in this area from adults. Youth in care are especially vulnerable. Our recommendations included that government lead the development of a comprehensive strategy to address cyberbullying. Government has committed to acting on the recommendations.
Our B.C. Adoption Update, released in December, showed a modest improvement in some areas, but we still have a long way to go. Government has increased the number of adoptive homes it approves from 31 to 39 per month, and has also increased the number of Aboriginal adoptive homes available — positive developments, but more change is needed.
December ended with the release of part one of the Plecas report, Decision Time. A former long-time B.C. deputy minister, Bob Plecas was hired by MCFD to review policy, practice and legislation of child welfare in B.C. in relation to a B.C. Supreme Court decision last summer. Although I was pleased to see that Mr. Plecas endorsed recommendations that my Office has made continually, including those calling for increased funding and adequate staffing for MCFD, I also had a number of concerns. For example, I disagree with Mr. Plecas’s assertion that independent oversight of B.C.’s child welfare system may soon no longer be required. Nothing could be further from the truth. I firmly believe that independent oversight of MCFD is essential and that, without it, many important stories would never be told and key problems would remain unaddressed. I also disagree with Mr. Plecas’s assertion that not every child can be protected. It is my firm position that we must protect all children at risk, regardless of circumstance.
This year looks to be no less intense than 2015. In January, we released a collaborative report with MCFD entitled The Placement of Children and Youth in Care in Hotels in British Columbia. This report was triggered by the tragic death of Alex Gervais in September 2015. The findings were shocking: we discovered 117 children and youth had been placed in hotels in a one-year period. MCFD responded with a formalized policy on hotel use and a commitment to public reporting twice yearly. That said, I want to see the use of hotels eliminated entirely. Instead, I want to see emergency foster home placements available throughout the province at all times.
In addition, my Office intends to follow up on Alex’s death with a full investigation and public report to be released this year.
There are several other reports underway this year as well, including an investigation into Nick Lang’s death in 2015, a substance use report, and a troubling investigation into the case of a young woman who endured abuse and neglect throughout her childhood.
On a more positive note, we were thrilled to find out this winter that Royal Roads University is offering tuition bursaries for up to three former youth in care a year. That makes 12 out of 25 B.C. post-secondary institutions with this type of program, and we hope more will soon follow suit.
Remember, all the reports I’ve mentioned are available on our website: www.rcybc.ca. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rcybc) and follow us on Twitter (@rcybc and @rcybcyouth) and Instagram (rcybcyouth) to stay up to date.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Representative for Children and Youth
Grandparents Day Stroll News Coverage
Over the Airwaves:
CKNW – Simi Sara Show – https://soundcloud.com/cknw/grandparents-raising
CBC’s Early Edition – http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/British+Columbia/ID/2675259493/ (Clarification: PSS has not experienced funding cuts)
Media Mornings Current Affairs show on Vancouver Co-op Radio – http://coopradio.org/content/media-mornings-741 47:00 min mark.
It Takes a Village Parenting show on Vancouver Co-op Radio – http://coopradio.org/content/it-takes-village-194 48:00 min mark
New Westminster News Leader – http://www.newwestnewsleader.com/community/celebrate-grandparents-day-sept-13-1.2054489
Vancouver Courier -
Stroll Raises Funds to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Event aimed at helping families across the province by - Sandra Thomas
GRG LIne Wins Award!
March 18, 2016
We are pleased to announce that our PSS Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) Support Line Advocates - Christina Campbell & Dennis Nkojo have been awarded the 2016 Field of Practice Award of the BC Association of Social Workers Richmond Delta Burnaby Branch. They were nominated for ongoing and passionate advocacy of children and youth. We are extraordinarily proud of Christina & Dennis and the important work done by the advocates on our GRG Support LIne over the years.
Below is the acceptance speech given by Dennis at the event.
GRG Line Advocate - Dennis Nkojo
BCASW AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Good evening to you all.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the BC Association of Social Workers, and in particular, the Richmond-Delta-Burnaby branch for recognising our efforts in ensuring a world where all children and their families are nurtured, valued and safe. Unfortunately, my colleague and co-recipient Christina Campbell is away and out of town on vacation.
I am humbled and honoured to receive this Award for the Grandparent Raising Grandchildren (GRG) work that I do and care about deeply. But more especially, it helps in confirming that we lawyers do have hearts after all!!
Permit me thank all my other colleagues at Parent Support Services Society of BC (PSS BC) who are represented here by the Executive Director, Carol Madsen and Jane Bouey. Such an achievement is only possible through solid teamwork and support. In the same breath, I wish to thank our immediate past Executive Director, Carol Ross who inducted me into social work practice, as I was coming from largely a lawyering background and perspective.
Allow me recognise and appreciate the positive contribution to our work by the management and staff of:
1- Legal Services Society BC;
2- Law Foundation BC;
3- The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth;
4- Community Legal Assistance Society BC;
5- Law Society of British Columbia;
6- Kettle Friendship Society; and
7- Ministry of Children and Family Development.
In 2013, Statistics Canada estimated that they were 75,000 full-time Grandparent led families in Canada, including 11,000 in British Columbia alone. From our interaction with the grandparents on the line, we know that many of their grandchildren are traumatised and faced with varied poverty-related challenges. The four major reasons for the calls we receive are:
1- Financial Assistance/Accessing MCFD Services;
2- Legal Issues (advice, representation, mediation among others);
3- Mental Health Issues (a whole range of these for both the children and adults); and
4- Meeting Educational and Recreational costs.
As you may be aware, navigating the different government systems can be a tedious exercise for anyone, let alone our GRG families. Whereas PSS does not have its own financial resources to cater for all our clients, we endeavor to offer a little more than just hope. For instance, we have worked on simplifying the comprehension of the relevant laws affecting families through our GRG Legal Guide.
This may assist one during negotiations with the Ministry and in cases requiring self-representation at the Courts. We have also been working with Legal Services Society to create awareness through the Family Duty Counsel Program about the unique challenges faced by GRGs while navigating the court system. We also offer our callers direction to other community resources and referrals, whenever that is necessary.
PSS runs a community based initiative under the GRG Circles Program. These are managed by PSS trained facilitators and are currently active in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver in the lower-mainland. We also have circles in Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville and Victoria on Vancouver Island, and two others in Prince George.
Our hope at PSS is that, through the continued collaboration and partnerships with other community service providers, and together with the families themselves, we can protect the safety and wellbeing of all children and promote the health of families by providing support, education, research, advocacy and resources to those in a Kinship Care and other parenting role.
Finally but certainly not least, a big thank you to my partner Bridget, and our daughters Namara and Nagasha. You motivate me to get up every day and go add my effort to making this world a better place.
Thank you and I wish you all a Happy Social Work Week.
Dennis receiving his award Carol Ross receiving her award from the Canadian Association of Social Workers.
School For All
School For All - Parent Support Services Statement
Media Coverage of Launch
Just some of the media coverage of the launch of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Telling Our Stories
Carol Ross, Parent Support Services' Advocacy & Kinship Care Director in conversation about grandparents raising grandkids (plus we hear from some GRG's themselves). Starts at 22:22 mark. http://podcast.cbc.ca/…/podcas…/bcalmanac_20150210_16777.mp3
A powerful interview with Grandparent Bernadine Fox
Grandparent Bernadine and her granddaughter Avy on Radio Canada TV discussing our documentary Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Telling Our Stories (Interviews in English)