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Press Releases

News from the field of Child and Youth Care

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Boys Town closing facilities in New York, California and Texas

Boys Town is closing facilities in three states – New York, Texas and California – this summer and shifting its resources to other programs, the organization said Monday in a press release.

In making the decision, Boys Town officials looked at the impact of programs on communities and long-term financial viability, said Bob Pick, executive vice president of youth care.

“The decision is also based on what is best for the kids and families served by Boys Town and the long term direction of the organization in order to devote more resources to research and innovation,” Pick said.

Environmental or regulatory issues within the three states have made it too difficult to care for children under Boys Town's model, to achieve lasting results or impact communities, the press release said without further elaborating on those issues.

"For 100 years, Boys Town has been working in many ways to do what is best for children and their families," the release said. "Our Model of Care has been thoroughly researched to prove its effectiveness at changing the lives of youth and families in our care."

Boys Town said employees will be affected by the closing, but "every effort will be made to foster a smooth transition for the employees and for the youth and families served. For those employees who will not remain employed at Boys Town, we will help them transition out of the organization. Severance packages will be available," the press release said. "We hope as many of these employees as possible can transition into other positions at another one of our Boys Town locations."

Boys Town provides youth, family and health care programs across the United States, helping more than 500,000 youths and families in 2016, according to the organization.




Significant impact on the Bay’s early childhood development centres

73 early childhood development (ECD) centres in Nelson Mandela Bay’s developing communities that received intervention from Early Inspiration across 2016/17 reflected an average of 15% improvement in terms of centre compliance at post-assessment.

“124 passionate, dedicated practitioners from Nelson Mandela Bay, that work or volunteer in ECD centres and grade R classrooms took part in our level two skills programme," remarks Early Inspiration MD, Dr Lauren Stretch.

"Each underwent a stringent selection process and participated in a holistic programme to improve their skills to improve the development of children under their care."


Early Inspiration’s intervention across Nelson Mandela Bay provided support and capacitation of ECD Centre principals and practitioners to keep them up to date on trends, strategies, policies and new opportunities for professional development.

Class and child assessments

Work didn't just end with assessing ECD centres. Early Inspiration evaluated children who attend the schools whose teachers participated in the programme to measure the development and direct benefits of the intervention.

"We used a control group as a comparison mechanism, so we have a benchmark to compare the ‘norm' vs. Early Inspiration impacted-centres," adds Dr Stretch.

"Provincially, the greatest element of growth in child during the course of the year for the children under the care of programme educators, was cognitive development. The results are a great reflection of the improvement in the development of the brain and an accurate reflection of the remarkable impact that quality, intentional intervention can have on young children."

Home visit support programme

Through the child assessments, at-risk children were identified to provide one-on-one interventions which are child-specific and meets the identified need.

Home visits adopt a non-centre based approach to intervention where education not only happens in the ECD centre but also that parents are capacitated on understanding their children's brain growth, needs and way of learning. This intervention provides additional support and offers parents training and development which aids their children.

“The six-month home visit programme focusses on one-on-one support and stimulation to assist children in becoming developmentally-appropriate and achieve age-related goals," says Dr Stretch.

Post-programme, the children who were at risk, made significant improvements with 79% of the children scoring between 81 and 100% at post-assessment.

26 June 2017




20% of LGBTI+ young people report bullying, harassment, discrimination

One in five LGBTI+ young people say they continue to face bullying and harassment despite major social changes in recent years.

The preliminary findings of an online consultation with over 4,000 young people have been released as the country's biggest Pride celebration gets underway in Dublin.

The survey is part of preparations for the new LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy commissioned by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone. The strategy represents a world first.

Preliminary findings of the consultation hosted by include:

• Increased openness and tolerance leading to acceptance and social responsibility
• A lack of 'full acceptance' with discrimination through language, non-inclusive sex education and bathroom provision
• Reports of bullying and harassment in many spaces – including work and school

The young people make a number of recommendations:

• Further Law Reform – including hate crime legislation, gender recognition for under-18s and removal of obstacles to adoption and surrogacy
• Improved sex education to include genders, relationships, sexualities as well as safe sex and consent
• All healthcare staff to be provided with LGBTI+ awareness training

Responding to the results Una Mullally, Independent Chair of the Strategy said:

"While the online findings are just one aspect of a consultation process which is on-going it is clear that a number of themes are emerging.

There is recognition of the social advances of recent years however bullying, discrimination and isolation remain a reality for many young people.

I want to acknowledge the support of in facilitating the online consultation, which will feed into our final report. It is important as many voices as possible are heard in this process. In addition to the online consultation we have also hosted regional meetings and next week will be meeting representatives from all aspects of Irish life at a special gathering in Farmleigh.

At the end of the process the full consultation findings will be published"

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone added:

"This is a wake-up call for young people, campaigners and politicians gathering for Pride that our work is not over. The findings underline the huge importance of Pride events not just in Dublin but across the country. Even with these preliminary results it is clear the National Youth Strategy will require actions across Government. It will be challenging. However it is work we must commit to if we are to secure equality, fairness and justice for all."

23 June 2017

 Department of Children and Youth Affairs




Work guarantee aims to help care leavers into employment

Young people who have grown up in care will get temporary full-time jobs as part of a programme to even the playing field in the jobs market.

People who have spent part of their childhoods in foster care, children's homes or looked after by a local authority are more likely to be excluded from school, leave education without qualifications, and fail to go into work or training.

Many lack confidence to seek employment, while businesses can overlook them due to a lack of qualifications or so-called 'soft skills'.

The Scottish Government is to invest more than £1m in programmes to overcome these barriers, in a partnership with leading charities Barnardo's, Action for Children and the Prince's Trust.

Employability minister Jamie Hepburn will today launch the second phase of the Discovering Your Potential programme which will see 40 young care leavers given a job, relevant training and expenses, with leading employers including Kwik-Fit, Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Hepburn said the number of young people leaving care with qualifications had improved from 15 per cent in 2010 to 40 per cent, but there was more to be done.

He said he didn't think employers were prejudiced against care experienced young people, but added: "I think some may feel they not quite ready for the world of work. The employers involved in this scheme are trying to be willing to recognise that actually that young person will have abilities that haven't quite come to the fore, and work with them to that end. We can deliver success for these young people."

The scheme was welcomed by 21-year-old Reegan Watt, who was looked after at home when he was younger and subsequently ended up in HMP Polmont after involvement in gang activities. Now he works for Barnardo's mentoring other young people, after benefitting from Community Jobs Scotland, the voluntary sector employment programme run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which is getting £157,500 as part of the announcement.

"CJS allows a lot of young people to get a work guarantee they have maybe never had before. "I get a buzz out of working – I have a smile on my face from when I get up in the morning to when I go to bed," he said.

21 June 2017



Toronto: Expansion of youth homeless prevention program

An innovative multi-agency pilot program to help at-risk youth stay off the streets in Toronto has expanded to Thunder Bay.

The Housing Outreach Program-Collaboration (HOP-C), which involves a team of mental health professionals and peer support workers helping young people transition out of homelessness, has been operating since 2015, with initial funding from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Under the leadership of CAMH researcher Dr. Sean Kidd, HOP-C has shown great promise, leading to improvements in housing, education and employment for many of the youth who took part. It has also catalyzed close partnerships between several organizations including Covenant House, LOFT Community Services, the Centre for Mindfulness Studies and the Wellesley Institute – with CAMH as the lead partner.

Thanks to a grant of $976,900 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund, the HOP-C initiative is now the subject of a formal clinical trial in Toronto and a scaling initiative in Thunder Bay.

“The way our system is set up it tends to be largely crisis oriented, but often those supports fall off once youth locate housing, and the outcomes tend to be poor,” says Dr. Kidd. “This approach is designed to provide peer support, mental health support, addiction support, as well as outreach-based case management in this critical time of transition. The idea is to provide support in that first year of housing, connect recently homeless youth to services and supports, and give them a stronger sense of self and community so they are more likely to be successful in permanently leaving homelessness.”

The Thunder Bay initiative, called HOP-C North, has engaged a partnership with Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, which will adapt the HOP-C model to make it culturally relevant to Indigenous youth transitioning out of homelessness.

“We wanted to see how HOP-C will work in a smaller setting that doesn’t have as many community supports,” says Dr. Kidd. “Thunder Bay has a major homelessness problem. We wanted to collaborate with local partners who will lead and test a northern and Indigenous relevant version of HOP-C.”

In tandem with the HOP-C expansion, a new “survival” guide, written by formerly homeless youth for homeless youth, has also been published.

“Having this come from the direct experience of young people who have been there means they can provide highly relevant information in a format that others experiencing what they did can relate to,” says Dr. Kidd.

15 June 2017



New Zealand: Needs of children exposed to family violence

Needs of children exposed to family violence not being recognised – new findings shine a light on at risk group

Released today, 'What works for children exposed to family violence?' brings together evidence about the best interventions which make a positive difference to these children’s lives.

The main revelation of this paper is that the harm caused by family violence exposure is just as harmful as the harm caused by direct abuse. ‘Exposure’ to family violence is damaging no matter whether the child sees, hears, is directly involved, or experiences the aftermath of violence in their family.

This release shines a light on a group of children who need more support from the social sector systems. These children are being exposed to family violence; however, because they are not suffering from physical abuse there are too few pathways for them to seek support, and the supportive services we do have on offer are not catering for the needs of this group of children.

The Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (Superu) Chief Executive, Clare Ward says "Our current response to providing support to these children is targeted only at the ones who are direct victims of physical abuse, but not for the ones who experience family violence in other ways."

"Attention should be turned to intervention at the earliest stages as that’s when the child’s outcomes are most likely to be improved. The younger the child, the greater the potential harm"

"Changes must be made at the policy level, to provide more resourcing to address this issue" Ward added. "We need more evidence in the New Zealand context about this issue."

"Interventions should have the right cultural fit for the child, as well as catering for children of different ages and with different experiences."

This research aims to be useful for those people who develop policy or run support services for these children to keep themselves safe. Superu’s ‘What Works’ synthesis products answer complex questions on specific social issues and add to the evidence-base.

13 June 2017

Tuesday, 13 June 2017, 2:41 pm
Press Release: Superu 



Ireland’s first Bail Supervision Scheme for young people

Ireland’s first Bail Supervision Scheme (BSS) for young offenders has been officially launched at Government Buildings today (Monday 12th May 2017) by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, T.D.

Operated by the social justice charity, Extern, the pilot Scheme has been created in order to offer an alternative to detention for young people. It is aimed at supporting them to be at home, in education, training or employment, and to remain out of trouble with the law. The Scheme will run for two years. It will cater for up to 25 young people in the Dublin area each year, aged between 12 and 17, and operate out of the Dublin Children’s District Court.

First for Ireland

In what is a first for the youth justice sector in Ireland, Extern has been contracted to provide the needed interventions through the use of Multisystemic Therapy or (MST). MST is an evidence-based approach using an intensive family and community-based treatment programme. It focuses on addressing all of the environmental systems that impact upon chronic and violent young offenders, including their homes and families, schools and teachers, communities, and friends.

Originating in the United States more than 30 years ago, effectiveness studies have shown that MST-based programmes help reduce re-arrest rates, out-of-home placements, adolescent drug and alcohol use, and help to keep young people in education. Extern are the only organisation licensed to carry out the therapy in Ireland, with some 500 MST teams operating across 15 countries worldwide.

How the Scheme works

Prior to the launch of the Scheme, if a young person had been denied bail, breached previous bail requirements, or incurred new charges when on bail, they would have been remanded to detention in Oberstown Children Detention Campus until their next court date.

Rather than the young person remaining in detention until their court case is finalised, staff in Oberstown Children Detention Campus can make a referral to the Scheme on the young person’s behalf, for a suitability assessment for the Bail Supervision Scheme.

An initial assessment is then completed by BSS staff, who meet with the young person and their family or carer. The BSS team then inform the Children’s Court if they believe the young person and their parent or main carer meet the list of criteria for MST treatment. Along with information from An Garda Síochána, the Probation Services, and any other relevant stakeholders, the Judge will decide whether to release them with the support of the service, rather than keep them on remand in Oberstown Detention Campus.

If the presiding Judge grants bail, with strict conditions, and having received assurance that the young person and family will work with the scheme, the BSS team will immediately begin MST treatment with the young person and family once they are released, alongside the statutory agencies.

Each family will be assigned an MST therapist who will work intensively with them in their community while the young person is on bail, with 24/7 support available. The duration of the programme will be between three to five months for each individual.

Speaking about the introduction of the Scheme to Ireland, Minister Zappone, said:

 “This intensive Bail Supervision Scheme for young people will impact upon remand trends by offering courts a new option of bail with support as an alternative to the traditional remand to detention. The normal rules on breaches of conditions of bail will be observed should a young person not comply, however, we believe that the added supervision and MST delivery will ensure greater compliance, closer monitoring, and less chaotic behaviour.

“We know that juvenile offending is mainly caused by difïculties within family and peer relationships, in education performance, and within the type of communities and criminal sub-cultures our young people are growing up in. This innovative, MST-based intervention scheme, delivered by Extern, enables the young people involved to experience positive change in each area of their life, by using strengths within their own ecology.

“In our duty to provide the best opportunities for our young people, there can be no doubt that the greatest gains for us as a society lie in our ability to intervene early, and therefore impact on behavioural problems before they become ingrained.”

It is envisaged that the new Scheme will promote the concept of detention as a last resort and judges will have available to them information on how a young person is progressing.

12 June 2017

Department of Children and Youth Affairs




Social Investment priorities where all children can flourish

CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) says that with a government election impending, it is crucial to bring in policies that have the wellbeing of all New Zealand’s children at the centre.

If ‘social investment’ policies were designed to ensure the wellbeing of children across all areas of life and all socio-economic levels, we could dramatically reduce the number of preventable hospital admissions among children.

But the current ‘social investment’ policies are poorly designed. Under these policies, the Ministry of Social Development targets an amount of funding for children based on their meeting a specific set of experience-related criteria. This defines them as being potentially vulnerable or ‘at risk’ of poor outcomes.

While poverty is a strong determinant for poor outcomes for children, it is not one of the ‘social investment’ risk factors.

Many of the children who meet the experience criteria may not actually have poor outcomes. Some children who need services will not receive them, while others who will not need assistance will have better access to it.

We can turn do better than this.

"There are very good reasons for investing in children and for investing well in children who have less resources and opportunities than they need," says Associate Professor Mike O’Brien, CPAG social security spokesperson. The evidence internationally is clear: investment needs to be in all children and families, not just in a specially targeted group of ‘vulnerable children’.

"There are clearly enormous risks in a social investment approach which singles out a small group of children and their families," says O’Brien, "Government and its agencies need to ensure that all children are able to grow, prosper and develop. This statistic-based ‘social investment’ certainly won’t do that.

"All children deserve the opportunity to flourish and develop to their best ability."

CPAG’s priority for the 2017 election is the introduction of measures to substantially reduce child hospital admissions for preventable illnesses. These measures must address three key areas that desperately require remedial attention:

Addressing one area alone will have insufficient impact for children.

CPAG has compiled a comprehensive list of recommendations to improve the welfare system so that it supports all children in need, and not just a targeted few. Implementing these recommendations would ensure children’s needs are met adequately from conception through to adulthood.

 7 June 2017

Press Release: Child Poverty Action Group



Ontario passes legislation to strengthen child welfare and improve outcomes for youth

Province putting children at the centre of decision-making

Today, Ontario passed legislation to help children and youth across the province thrive and reach their full potential by strengthening and modernizing child, youth and family services.

The Child, Youth and Family Services Act makes significant changes to how Ontario provides services to children and youth in need of protection. It puts young people at the centre of decisions about their care, supports more accountable, responsive and accessible child and youth services and strengthens oversight for children's aid societies and licensed residential services. Key areas of change in the act include:

• Raising the age of protection from 16 to 18 to increase protection services for more vulnerable youth in unsafe living conditions, to support their education and to reduce homelessness and human trafficking
• Making services more inclusive and culturally appropriate for all children and youth, including Indigenous and Black children and youth, to ensure every child receives the best possible support
• Putting a greater focus on early intervention, to help prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home
• Improving accountability and oversight of service providers, including children's aid societies and licensed residential service providers, so that children and youth receive safe, consistent and high-quality services across the province.

Supporting children and youth and helping them reach their full potential is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick facts

• Last year, Ontario’s 38 children’s aid societies and nine Indigenous child wellbeing societies provided services to more than 113,000 families.
• By increasing the age of protection to 18, it is estimated that an additional 1,600 youth will have access to protection services within the first full year of implementation of the Act.
• As part of A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, the province is developing a disaggregated race data collection framework, which will standardize the collection, analysis and reporting of race-based data across public institutions to address systemic racism and advance racial equality, including in the child welfare sector.
• The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies developed the One Vision One Voice practice framework to support better outcomes for Black children and youth involved with Ontario’s child welfare system.
• Ontario committed an additional $134 million over four years in the 2017 budget to support new initiatives in the child welfare sector, grounded in this legislation.

1 June 2017

Ministry of Children and Youth Services



Alberta: Helping youth learn about healthy relationships

Healthy Families Healthy Futures has earned an $84,826 Status of Women grant to teach youth about consent and gender-based violence.

The program uses Red Cross’s Healthy Youth Relationships Program – an evidence-based approach focused on youth to shift attitudes to build a more respectful, inclusive and abuse-free society.

“Youth outreach can prevent unhealthy relationships before they start. Respectful partnerships make our communities safer and advance our goal of gender equality.”
Stephanie McLean, Minister of Status of Women

Healthy Families Healthy Futures has partnered with the Aspen View School Division, the Athabasca Native Friendship Centre and Community Action for Healthy Relationships to expand its training and workshops for young people in Athabasca, Barrhead, Westlock and area.

The initiative will involve schools, agencies and clubs working with youth. The program currently reaches only one or two schools per year.

“Youth in our communities need evidence-based information that is practical and easy to understand that will help them make good decisions about their bodies and their relationships. Expanding our work helps us reach more kids – especially those who might otherwise be left behind.”
Kelly-Lynn Spafford, manager, Healthy Families Healthy Futures

About Status of Women grants

Status of Women’s first-ever grants program funds 34 innovative projects by not-for-profit and charitable organizations for a total of $1.5 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Successful projects, such as Community Action for Healthy Relationships in Youth, work to end violence against women and girls, help women get good jobs and training and increase the number of women in leadership roles.

31 May 2017

Alberta Government



Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY) calls for changes to licensing practices

The recent deaths of children and youth in the care of residential services in Ontario have deeply saddened all those involved in the sector. As a provincial association we recognize our responsibility to take whatever action we can to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future and we are fully committed to working with our partners to address issues within the current system.

We support the recent calls from our partners in the sector for a Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of children and youth in the residential care system in Ontario. We believe that an Inquest will bring to light issues which must be addressed in order to ensure an efficient, effective, safe, and transparent system of care.

OARTY has brought many recommendations for improving the child welfare and residential services systems forward, most recently through our submission to the MCYS Residential Services Review Panel. Our recommendations challenged the current structure and thinking of the system with the goal of improving outcomes for children primarily, and the sector as a whole, while also increasing transparency and accountability.

Recommendations within our submission to the MCYS Residential Services Review Panel included:

• Adopting a robust triage system at intake into the system to facilitate an accessible, responsive system, grounded in respect and dignity.
• Mandating and funding third party accreditation to ensure continuous quality improvement processes.
• Reviewing and updating licensing standards.
• Implementing a process to standardize policies, procedures, and practices across the province.

Our concerns with the current practice in placement decisions have been included in all of our submissions to government, and we will continue to advocate to ensure that children and youth are receiving the appropriate level of care and treatment in the least intrusive manner. Currently, the service delivery system seems to set targets of “how many units” of low cost/low intensity services can be provided (e.g.) kinship care, regular foster care and brief group therapy.

The recent deaths of children and youth in the care of residential services in Ontario have deeply saddened all those involved in the sector. As a provincial association we recognize our responsibility to take whatever action we can to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future and we are fully committed to working with our partners to address issues within the current system.

25 May 2017


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