Support First Call as a Communications and Development Volunteer

Fall Communications & Development Volunteers

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition (First Call) is seeking two individuals to join us as Communications & Development Volunteers from September 1 to December 31, 2015. They will support a variety of initiatives at First Call including communications, fundraising, event planning and administration.

First Call is a non-partisan coalition of over 95 provincial and regional organizations who have united their voices to put children and youth first in BC through public education, community mobilization and public policy advocacy.

Volunteers will make valuable connections in Vancouver’s non-profit and child and youth serving communities and will acquire real-life experience in communications, fundraising, event planning and administration. Volunteers should have a strong interest in these areas and a passion for advocating for children and youth.

Volunteers should be willing to commit about 7 hours per week in person at First Call’s office in downtown Vancouver (Monday-Thursday, 9:30-4:30 pm). Ideally this would take place one day a week, but could be spread out over a few days if necessary.

Projects of Communications & Development Volunteers may include:

  • Supporting the planning of First Call’s 2016 Annual Fundraising Gala (Feb 2016), such as outreach, promotions and silent auction solicitation
  • Supporting the development and dissemination of the 2015 Annual Child Poverty Report Card (outreach, promotions, social media, press conference)
  • Assisting with First Call’s annual fundraising appeal
  • Assisting with writing and posting First Call’s weekly Child and Youth Advocate newsletter
  • Assisting with First Call’s electronic communications
  • Updating website content (WordPress)
  • Monitoring child and youth news and policy
  • Other tasks, depending on volunteers’ specific skill sets or areas of interest

Assets for this volunteer role include:

  • Experience in event planning and community outreach
  • Strong communication and writing skills
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Graphic design experience
  • Familiarity with website maintenance using WordPress
  • Self-motivation and ability to work independently on assigned tasks
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office
  • Working knowledge of social media
  • Passion for advocating for children and youth and knowledge about these issues

Please send your cover letter and resume to Sarena Talbot sarena@firstcallbc.org by August 14, 2015 (interviews will be the week of August 17th or 24th). We thank all applicants for their expression of interest. Please note that only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

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Filed under Events and Opportunities

Court ruling on MCFD liability in child sex abuse case and RCY’s statement

A July 14, 2015, BC Supreme Court ruling found the Ministry of Children and Family Development liable for damages in relation to a case involving what the court judged to be a wrongful apprehension of children from their mother and the subsequent sexual abuse of one of the children while in ministry care. From the judgement:

“I have determined that the Director and certain Ministry social workers acted well outside of their statutory mandate and the duty to protect children. The nature of their tortious conduct […] ranges from intentional misconduct, bad faith, reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children, breach of the applicable standard of care to unreasonably supporting the custodial interests of the children’s father even if it meant he sexually abused them.”

On July 24, the provincial government announced it has hired a private contractor, Bob Plecas, to review matters arising from the ruling. The BC representative for children and youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond issued a statement in response:

“I wish to make it clear that the contracted process announced today is not one that is contemplated either by the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCS Act) or the Representative for Children and Youth Act (RCY Act). […] I will continue to monitor this file and will in due course make a determination concerning an independent investigation and report by my Office […].”

First Call supports the RCYBC’s statutory mandate as an independent officer of the legislature to monitor, review, conduct investigations and report publicly on the ministry’s performance in relation to this case and others.

Listen to the RCY’s radio interview on the Early Edition, starting at 1:41:18.

Read detail of the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s failure to protect in Justice Walker’s judgement

Read the BC government news release Independent review of ministry practice launched

More news coverage:
CBC News: B.C. youth advocate urges probe of mistakes in child abuse case

Kelowna Now: BC Judge Finds Ministry of Child Protection Failed to Investigate Sexual Abuse

CBC News: B.C. child sex abuse case to be reviewed by Bob Plecas

Times Colonist: Premier pledges independent review of child sex abuse case

CBC News: B.C. Children’s Ministry announces review after scathing child sex abuse ruling

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Safe and Caring Communities

SPEI regulations include two new changes to help single parents

July 24, 2015, the BC government announced two new changes effective September 1, 2105, to the Single Parent Employment Initiative that will remove additional barriers to employment for single parents on income and disability assistance that have been advocated for by single parents, First Call and other organizations.

Exemptions for bursaries, scholarships and grants related to educational or training costs will be extended to parents in approved training programs and the clawback of Canada Pension Plan Orphan’s Benefits from single parents on welfare (worth on average $235/mo) will be eliminated.

Read the government news release

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Early Childhood Development, Economic Equality

UN Human Rights Committee slams Canada for worsening record – Canadian groups call for political action

The state of human rights in Canada has seriously deteriorated since the United Nations Human Rights Committee last reviewed this country’s record a decade ago. The committee’s concluding observations, released July 23, 2015, express serious concerns about new human rights issues, such as the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the chill on freedom of expression and association, the failure to regulate the activities of Canadian corporations operating abroad and the failure to provide health care to all refugees and irregular migrants.

The committee notes that the basic needs of many indigenous peoples are not being met. It called on Canada to take immediate, coordinated action on murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls.

A joint statement made by concerned Canadian groups, including Aboriginal Title Alliance, Canada Without Poverty and Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, said, “Canada needs to put in place measures to ensure full and prompt implementation of all UN human rights recommendations.” Read the full press release.

In a separate press release, Shelagh Day, spokesperson for Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action stated, “The Human Rights Committee has now added its voice to the many international human rights experts that are calling on Canada to establish a national public inquiry into the violence [against Aboriginal women and girls].”

News coverage:
Huffington Post: UN Report On Canada’s Human Rights Record A ‘Wake-Up Call’

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Resource

Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates calls on provincial and federal leaders to reduce number of indigenous children in care

Following the release of the report to the premiers of Canada examining the issue of over-representation of Aboriginal children in care, the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, an association of government-appointed children’s advocates, has called on both the premiers and the federal government to take concrete actions.

“Children cannot wait,” writes the council. “Small steps can be taken while the bigger challenges are being tackled. Steps to reducing the need for child welfare include poverty reduction, housing programs, child care. These are considered preventative initiatives.”

In August and November of 2014, the CCCYA urged the federal, provincial and territorial governments to take immediate action to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care across Canada. Among the actions were a national initiative to measure and report on child welfare, education and health outcomes for Aboriginal children and youth; the creation of a national Aboriginal children and youth participation initiative; the creation of a special conference of Federal/Provincial/Territorial First Ministers, with Aboriginal leaders and child and youth delegates; and the creation of an independent National Children’s Commissioner with particular emphasis on Aboriginal children and youth.

Read the CCCYA’s call to action

You can support these recommendations by writing to: Loretta@canadaspremiers.ca

News coverage:

CTV: Too many aboriginal kids in state care, premiers say

Huffington Post: Canada’s Premiers Support All 94 Truth and Reconciliation Recommendations

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Resource, Safe and Caring Communities

JAMA Pediatrics article on child poverty, brain development and academic achievement

This research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, underscores the urgency of reducing child and family poverty levels in BC and Canada, particularly in the early years of a child’s life when crucial brain development is taking place. Let your elected representatives and candidates in the upcoming federal election know that you support much greater public investments in a universal system of accessible and affordable quality early care and learning programs as part of a poverty reduction strategy.

Excerpts:

Importance: Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households.

Conclusions and Relevance: The influence of poverty on children’s learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

  • Children from families with limited financial resources displayed systematic structural differences in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.
  • Developmental differences in the frontal and temporal lobes may explain as much as 20% of low-income children’s achievement deficits.

Our work suggests that specific brain structures tied to processes critical for learning and educational functioning (e.g., sustained attention, planning, and cognitive flexibility) are vulnerable to the environmental circumstances of poverty, such as stress, limited stimulation, and nutrition.

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Filed under Early Childhood Development, Research

Stats Can: Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey, 2013

The 2013 Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (CNICS) collected information about children’s immunizations from parents or guardians. About 89% of two-year-olds had received the recommended number of immunizations against measles, mumps and rubella and about 77% of two-year-olds had received the required number of shots for diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. Coverage for polio among two-year-olds was 91%, while 73% had been vaccinated against varicella (chicken pox).

Read more

Source: CSRL E-news

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Filed under Early Childhood Development, Research