The Federation’s Youth Education Bursary and Holiday Giving

“There was a point in life where I thought I could never succeed or amount to anything. Receiving this award really gives me a sense of purpose in my career and in life. It gives me confidence going forward in my post-secondary education and provides me with hope. Thank you so much for all you have done for me, and other people like me that want to make a change.” – 2015 Bursary Recipient

Since 2009, The Federation’s Youth Education Bursary has been supporting young people who want to pursue a career in the human social services.

As many of you know, the bursary was one of the things that inspired me most when I first joined The Federation. That’s because it’s about more than just a dollar amount. It was—and still is—one of the ways this federation sees young people as far more than simply a kid from government care. It imagines their potential and helps them reach it.

It’s also an intentional and heartfelt way of welcoming the next generation of caregivers and practitioners into our sector. It empowers those who have been recipients of services and support to do the same for others.

Each year, we hear from multiple applicants about how they want to use their experiences in care to be of service to others and to their communities. Many applicants note the impact of the support they received and, in turn, want to be that pillar of support for someone else. Others reflect on their negative experiences in care and use them as inspiration for wanting to change the system.

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and I know it’s time for your own holiday giving campaigns. I also know many of you coordinate your own activities and programs that help vulnerable families and we don’t want to compete with this work.

But I do hope that you join us in promoting the Youth Education Bursary this season. Help us spread the word and consider making a donation in the name of someone you care about as part of your holiday gift giving this year.

You can learn more about the bursary and donate (or gift a donation in someone’s name) on our website. Applications for the 2018 Youth Education Bursary will open in January.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

Considering Secure Care in BC

The need for, and appropriateness of, safe or secure care has been discussed and debated in British Columbia for nearly two decades. The current overdose crisis has once again brought attention to this ongoing debate. The Federation is tracking and analyzing a lot of different issues and this is definitely one of them.

In March of this year, MLA Gordon Hogg tables new legislation attempting to address the needs of vulnerable children and youth who are at high risk of harm due to commercial sexual exploitation or severe drug misuse or addiction (Safe Care Act – Bill M 240-2017). However, the bill only reached First Reading before the house rose.

At the moment, we are aware that both the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Office of Representative for Children and Youth are exploring this issue. We know others are monitoring the discussion and may have opinions. But without a collaborative space to have these conversations as a group, many are reluctant to share their thoughts about the prospect of secure care in BC because it is such a contested issue.

Understanding the issue

The Federation’s Residential Review Report includes the recommendation that the BC government consider secure care as part of an array of services available to children and families. However, we don’t believe that such an array exists at the moment and we are concerned about the prospect of adopting secure care models without the other necessary improvements and additions to our province’s social care system.

As such, The Federation staff team has been reaching out to our members and our allies in the sector in order to better understand the various opinions and concerns surrounding this issue. Some see secure care as another option that could be available when everything else fails. Others feel that secure care is a violation of human rights and worry that it could be used inappropriately. Many people worry that it could further traumatize vulnerable youth (in spite of any benefit). Others fear that it could further alienate young people from the very few positive relationships they may have in their lives.

The only consensus was that everyone we spoke to agreed that the current array of service for young people is not enough.

Even the literature is inconclusive. The research we have evaluated suggests no clear evidence of efficacy. Consistent and transferable evaluations are lacking and what little evidence exists is anecdotal. This lack of evidence was yet another concern raised by members during our consultations.

So where does that leave us?

One of our biggest concerns is that work on this issue is happening in relative isolation and with little involvement from the community social services sector. Our unwavering focus is on the welfare of children and there is too much at stake and too many overlapping concerns for these decisions to be made behind closed doors.

The diversity of opinions and considerations are a signal—an incredibly clear indication—that this issue requires consultation and collaboration before any decisions are made. We may not agree with one another but including all the different voices and perspectives will enable a more thoughtful and promising approach to this problem.

To this end, The Federation Board of Directors has requested that the Minister of Children and Family Development convene a gathering of people interested in this issue to inform whatever the next steps may be. (You can read a PDF copy of the letter on the member’s section of our website.)

We have also pulled together a small working group of Federation members interested in contributing to our organization’s efforts. If you are interested in being more involved, please contact The Federation’s Research and Policy Analyst Pam Alcorn.

And, as always, we aren’t working in isolation on this issue. Our colleagues at The Ending Violence Association of BC have produced an analysis of the Safe Care Act mentioned above. Their report illustrates the complexity of this issue and the need for thoughtful consideration and collaboration.

Federation members can learn more about the letter we sent to Minister Conroy on our website.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


Research Bulletin November 2017: Sector Issues

The relaunch of The Federation’s (new and improved) research bulletins in August was met with a great and positive response. Since then, we have continued to track research, analyses, and evaluations that can help inform and improve service delivery in BC.

This issue reviews and shares research that explains, analyzes and addresses some issues that are top-of-mind and closely related to what’s going on in our province: poverty, mental health, kids in care, inequality. The reports also connect with themes of evaluation and promising practices that were the focus of The Federation’s ‘Building on Success’ conference in October.

The reports below examine child poverty, mental health services, gender inequality, promising practices, evaluation, and measurement.

1. Children living in low-income households
2. Missing Pieces: Joshua’s Story
3. Toward Quality Mental Health Services in Canada
4. The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2017
5. Measuring Outcomes in Practice

As always, our goal is to share useful information in a useful way. If you have feedback about how we can make this service better and/or if you want to suggest issues or service areas for our Research and Policy Analyst to pay attention to, please contact us.


1. Children living in low-income households (Canada, 2017)

This short paper from Statistics Canada provides an updated report on the numbers of children living in low-income households across Canada. It uses 2016 Census Data and provides figures and comparisons across provinces and select metropolitan areas.

Under various different government programs, Canadian families can receive significant financial support for children. Unsurprisingly, Quebec (a province with comparatively high government benefits for families with children) was the only province where children were less likely to live in low-income households than adults making clear the connection between government support and poverty.

Younger children were more affected by low income, partly because the earnings of new mothers tend to drop in the year of childbirth and for several years thereafter. But it is also worth noting that children whose family shared a dwelling with others were less likely to be considered low income.


2. Missing Pieces: Joshua’s Story (Canada, 2017)

This investigative report by BC’s Representative for Children and Youth finds lessons and missed opportunities in the story of a young man who didn’t receive the support he needed in order to overcome a debilitating mental illness.

After an exhaustive review, the Representative concluded that better services might not have necessarily have prevented this tragedy. However, the report makes very clear that a comprehensive youth mental health system would have given Joshua and his family a better chance to deal with his challenging illness.

The report recommends that BC’s new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions should take the lead role in developing and implementing a comprehensive mental health system for children and youth—one that offers a full continuum of mental health services, including prevention, early intervention, family support, emergency and acute care, and “step-down” services to prepare children and youth for life in the community after hospitalization.


3. Toward Quality Mental Health Services (Canada, 2017)

This report contains the results of a Canada-wide project (led by the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction at Simon Fraser University) aiming to identify, analyze and compare mental health service indicators. The goal was to identify and establish criteria for tracking and reporting mental health and addictions services across provinces.

The service performance indicators that were identified and compared included the location of first treatment contact, physician follow-ups after discharge, and suicide rates among people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction. The reports (a Summary Report and a Technical Report) provide background information about the project, comparative results by province, and key findings.

No province was consistently the best, but across most indicators, adolescents and young adults were the categories receiving the poorest service performance across all provinces (although variations across gender were also observed).


4. The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2017 (Canada, 2017)

This annual study provides a snapshot of the gaps in men and women’s access to economic security, personal security, education, health, and positions of leadership in Canada’s largest 25 metropolitan areas.

It measures these gaps in a given community in order to capture inequalities that can be attributed, at least in part, to discrimination based on gender; it also serves as a reminder that, with the right choices and policies, these gaps can be closed.

According to this year’s ranking, Victoria is the best city to be a woman (for the third year in a row), while big gaps in employment and high poverty rates for women put Windsor in last place (for the second year in a row).


5. Measuring Outcomes in Practice (Canada, 2017)

Echoing some well-made (and well-received) arguments made during The Federation’s recent conference, these authors note the importance of adopting a “systems-wide lens” when looking at impact and effort. They argue that recognizing the interconnectedness of the social and environmental issues we work to address better enables us to get at the root causes of these complex social issues.

The report examines challenges and emerging trends in measurement and evaluation and encourages organizations to reflect on their contribution as part of a collective effort. This shift (as well as other recommendations such as shifting from “outputs” to “outcomes”) empowers organizations and programs to focus on how a program or service contributes to a better quality of life for Canadians, rather than simply stating what the program or service delivers.

Their goal, like ours, is to challenge the sector, governments, and other funders/partners to ensure that our collective efforts are in fact making a difference in the lives of the people we serve.