Today is National Child Day, November 20

The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). To celebrate National Child Day, November 20, organizations across Canada are promoting awareness of child rights:

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) is calling on the federal and provincial/territorial governments to take immediate steps to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in child welfare systems across the country. The UNCRC enshrines a broad range of rights to health, safety, well-being and education for children. Aboriginal children and youth are one of the most vulnerable populations of children in Canada with significant gaps in outcomes between this population of children and other Canadian children and youth. Read the full statement

The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children (CCRC) has created a series of fact sheets about the rights under the convention. rightsofchildren.ca

The Society for Children and Youth of BC (SCY) SCY leads the Child Rights Public Awareness Campaign. Browse resources and take action at Everychild.ca

Child Rights Education Week (CREW), November 17-22 has launched a new website with resources for educators, parents and children.

The Public Health Agency of Canada website has online resources, including an activity kit, a child and youth corner and a downloadable banner.

The Equitas website includes the new Play It Fair! video, which shows how children see their rights, and the Play It Fair! toolkit

The National Film Board is featuring five films that celebrate the voices of children.

Sources: CCRC, SYC Child Rights News, BCACCS E-News, BC’s RCY Office

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First Call Coalition 2014 BC Child Poverty Report Card Release November 24, Webinar December 2

On Monday, November 24, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition will release its annual report card on child poverty in British Columbia, in conjunction with the release of the national child poverty report card by Campaign 2000.

The BC 2014 Child Poverty Report Card presents the latest statistics on child and family poverty in BC. It will be available to the general public at www.firstcallbc.org at 9:30 am on November 24, 2014. Campaign 2000 will release a national report card on the same day, available at www.campaign2000.ca.

First Call partners and allies in the Lower Mainland are encouraged to attend the news conference on Monday, November 24 at 9:30 am at the BC Teachers’ Federation, 550 W. 6th Avenue, Vancouver, to show your support. It will take place at 9:30 am sharp, so please arrive a little beforehand.

Adrienne Montani, First Call provincial coordinator, will moderate the news conference. Scott Graham, associate executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, will present the data from the report card. Catherine Ludgate, manager of community investment at Vancity Savings Credit Union; Anna Chudnovsky, an elementary school teacher, and Viveca Ellis from the Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC will comment on the findings.

First Call will also be holding a free webinar on Tuesday, December 2 from 1-2 pm about the findings of the BC 2014 Child Poverty Report Card. We encourage everyone who wants to know more about the issue to participate, especially if you plan on incorporating the information from the report card into your own communications materials and presentations.

You can register for the webinar here

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Poverty reduction and child care recommendations included in new BC report from Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services

On November 13, 2014, the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its Budget 2015 Consultations report. Find it online at www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance

Below are highlights and excerpts. See also the summary of recommendations starting page 38 of the report

Online survey (pages 2-3)

Of the more than 1,200 responses to the online survey, raising taxes was the number-one priority for two of the survey questions (to fund a balanced budget and an increase in public services). K-12 and post-secondary education was the first priority for program spending.

Poverty reduction (page 26)

The submission by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition stated that society as a whole bears the costs of poverty, through higher public health care costs, increased policing and crime costs, lost productivity, and foregone economic activity. They estimated that poverty in BC represents a direct cost to government alone of $2.2 to $2.3 billion annually.

The Committee was presented with several proposals on how to reduce poverty, the most common of which was for the provincial government to invest in a poverty reduction plan. First Call proposed the adoption of a comprehensive plan with legislated targets and timelines, and the appointment of a cabinet minister to achieve the goal of reducing BC’s child poverty rate to 7 percent or lower by 2020. Other submissions called for other measures to reduce poverty through enhancements to income assistance rates and increases to the minimum wage. A number of written submissions also called on government to end the clawback of child support from single parents on income assistance.

Recommendation #37. Introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan, and review income assistance rates, the minimum wage, and clawback of child support payments.

Child care (page 27)

Recommendations were presented to the Committee to increase investments in public child care. In Surrey, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of British Columbia called for endorsement of their $10-a-day child care plan, a proposal raised in several previous budget consultations. Developed in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC, the plan was described as the basis for a quality, affordable, and accessible child care system.

Recommendation #40. Provide funding and support for the development and implementation of a child care plan.

Healthy living (page 16): Recommendation #19. Continue efforts to promote healthy living though taxation policies that discourage tobacco use, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other sources of chronic disease.

Child and youth mental health (page 18): Recommendation #17. Provide new investments for prevention and treatment of mental disorders in children and youth, including initiatives that foster cross-sector collaboration and integrated service delivery.

K-12 education (page 19): Recommendation #22. Provide stable, predictable, and adequate funding to enable school districts to fulfill their responsibility to provide continued equitable access to quality public education, and to meet required repair and maintenance needs.

Children and youth with special needs (page 20): Recommendation #25. Provide resources to identify and address the growing number of students with special needs and those with minimal English language skills.

Student financial aid (page 23): Recommendations #34. Establish a student grant program that addresses student needs and provides incentives for

completion; and #35. Reduce the interest charged on BC student loans and review existing eligibility requirements for student loans.

See news coverage in the Globe and Mail: B.C. finance committee backs balanced budgets, but calls for social assistance hikes

And the Vancouver Sun: B.C. schools need stable, predictable funding, budget committee says

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BC is now dead last in Canada when it comes to fighting poverty

As our friends at the Poverty Reduction Coalition (PRC) noted in their recent e-news, BC is the only remaining province in Canada that does not have a plan to fight poverty. This follows Saskatchewan’s announcement in its throne speech that it would commit to developing a poverty reduction strategy.

Upstream and Poverty Costs played a big part in getting Saskatchewan to take action on poverty. You can come hear Upstream founder Dr. Ryan Meili give a keynote speech at First Call’s fundraising gala on February 12, 2015.

Let’s continue to put pressure on Premier Christy Clark to support Bill M212: The Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act by filling out PRC’s easy online email tool

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Support federal government Motion 534 on Eliminating Child Poverty

Put forward by Rathika Sitsabaiesan, MP Scarborough – Rouge River, Motion 534 was debated in the House of Commons on November 17, 2014, on eve of the 25th anniversary of the all-party motion to eradicate child poverty.

Add your voice by signing the petition and learn more by attending the Child Poverty Report Card launches by Campaign 2000 and its provincial partners. In BC, First Call will launch its Child Poverty Report Card on November 24.

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RCY report release – BC Adoption Update

Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s latest report, B.C. Adoption Update, has been released and is available at www.rcybc.ca/reports-and-publications/reports.

This follow-up to the Representative’s report, Finding Forever Families: A Review of the Provincial Adoption System, provides key statistics for this fiscal year-to-date and the two previous fiscal years.

Read related news in the Vancouver Sun: B.C. on target to find adoption families for 300 kids and youth, rep says

And the Tyee: One Thousand BC Kids Still Waiting for Homes

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McCreary Centre Society’s Listening to Young Women’s Voices II – youth in custody report

November 18, 2014, the McCreary Centre released its report Listening to Young Women’s Voices II: Conversations with girls who stayed in Burnaby Youth Custody Centre. McCreary will also be presenting webinars on November 20 at 9 am, November 24 at 3 pm and November 27 at noon.

Find links to the webinars and the report at www.mcs.bc.ca

Read background in the media release

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