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Children in care need solid goals

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    ... From: Doug Kelly To: Doug Kelly Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 5:41 AM Subject: Victoria Times Colonist
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2007
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Doug Kelly" <dckelly@...>
      To: "Doug Kelly" <dckelly@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 5:41 AM
      Subject: Victoria Times Colonist - "Children in care need solid goals"
      Wednesday > March 7 > 2007
      Children in care need solid goals
      Youth representative says B.C. needs plan similar to New Zealand

      Lindsay Kines
      Times Colonist
      Wednesday, March 07, 2007

      CREDIT: John McKay, Times Colonist

      Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s first Representative for Children and
      Youth, provides an update and briefing for media following her presentation
      to the Select Standing Committee and Youth. Turpel-Lafond suggested
      politicians put aside differences and work on getting a five- or 10-year
      plan together before July to improve the lives of children in care.

      B.C. needs a long-range plan similar to one adopted in New Zealand to
      improve the lives of children in care, the province's new representative for
      children and youth said yesterday.

      Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond called on government and opposition MLAs to
      put aside political differences to develop a five- or 10-year plan by July.

      The non-partisan road map would set five to seven objectives, such as that
      children should be healthy, safe, and successful in their education. It
      would also establish key areas that Turpel-Lafond would track, and then
      report to the public on how the progress of the 9,500 to 10,000 children in
      government care or home placements -- half of whom are aboriginal.

      "British Columbia is certainly one of the wealthiest, healthiest provinces
      with one of the best education systems in Canada if not more widely," she
      said. "However, these children are still not doing well. And so my real goal
      is to see that they do well, because if those children are not doing well, I
      don't think any parent or family can feel confident."

      Turpel-Lafond laid out her proposal to the select standing committee on
      children and youth with a pointed reference to the B.C. government's goal of
      being the best jurisdiction in Canada for children.

      "That is a very high aspiration," she said. "Those aspirations need to be
      put into a clear and comprehensive plan that can be measured and that an
      independent office such as the representative's office can report out to the
      public and say: 'Here's how we're doing...'"

      Turpel-Lafond noted, for instance, that young girls in care are four times
      more likely than other teenagers to become pregnant. This, in turn, means
      they face greater likelihood of confronting education, health, and mental
      health issues.

      "So teen pregnancy is an indicator that we really want to look at carefully.
      How do we respond to it? Do the children in care receive sex education? Do
      the children in care have access to birth control?"

      In addition, an upcoming report done in conjunction with provincial health
      officer Dr. Perry Kendall will highlight concerns about the education of
      children in care. Turpel-Lafond said yesterday that only about 28 per cent
      of children in care are graduating from high school, and only one in five of
      those is graduating in an academic stream that could take him or her to a
      post-secondary school.

      A long-term plan would endeavor to get different government ministries
      working together to monitor, report, and fix such problems, Turpel-Lafond

      "New Zealand is a good example of a jurisdiction in which a clear,
      integrated, 10-year plan was developed for children and monitored," she told
      the committee. "And it was done so by an independent officer, much akin to
      the office that I'm now occupying. I think it's early on, but it has been
      very successful."

      Minister of Children and Family Development Tom Christensen said the
      representative's proposal appears to match the government's desire to better
      measure its impact on children. His ministry already has data-sharing
      agreements with the education, health and welfare ministries in order to see
      how children in care are faring, he said.

      NDP children's critic Maurine Karagianis also backed the proposal, calling
      it a "terrific innovation" by Turpel-Lafond.

      Turpel-Lafond has been on the job for a month, but her office officially
      opens for business April 1.

      (c) Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
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