BC Ministry of Children and Family Development
2008 December 9
NEW WESTMINSTER – A new handbook about the rights of youth will help young people involved in B.C.’s child welfare system become stronger self-advocates and successfully transition into adulthood, Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen announced today.
The minister joined representatives of the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks to celebrate the launch of the Your Life – Your Rights handbook. The handbook, produced by the federation with the support of a $70,000 ministry investment, helps meet government’s responsibility to ensure young people are educated about their rights.
“Your Life – Your Rights is part of government’s commitment to support youth in making successful transitions from care to independence when they turn 19,” said Christensen. “Educating youth about their rights and how they can effectively exercise them is empowering and can clearly lead to better lives.”
Research demonstrates that when children and youth understand their rights they show increased self-esteem; they are less likely to come to harm; more likely to seek help; more socially responsible and respectful of the rights of others; and are more likely to participate in a meaningful way in decisions affecting their lives.
“Young people involved in the child welfare system have a right to know about their rights in a way they can understand them,” said Jocelyn Helland, federation executive director. “It was important to us to involve young people in the creation of this great resource so it is written in a way that works for them. We are very proud of it.”
The Your Life – Your Rights handbook explains the rights of youth when they are accessing government services. These rights are recognized under B.C.’s Child, Family and Community Service Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Respecting the Rights of the Child is a core principle of the ministry.
“Every youth in care needs a copy of this book,” said Amanda, a member of the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, who can’t be identified because she’s a youth receiving services. “When I was in care, I didn’t realize what my rights were. When I found out, I was surprised at what was available to me and I was much better able to advocate for myself.”
The new handbook will be distributed to youth in care between the ages of 12 and 19, and complements a range of programs in place to help youth in care on the road to independence, such as the recently launched Agreements with Young Adults program, the Youth Education Assistance Fund, Youth Agreements and the Kinnections mentorship program.
To view the handbook online, please visit www.fbcyicn.ca, and to learn more about services for youth in B.C., please visit www.strongsafesupported.com/EN/for_youth/.