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Released on December 2, 2021
Three Youth Advisory Teams are now providing guidance on the supports and services important to them as the Ministry of Social Services develops and implements a comprehensive Youth Engagement Strategy. The teams are led by local Youth Coordinators and supported by a community partner in each location - EGADZ in Saskatoon, John Howard Society in Regina and Prince Albert Outreach in Prince Albert.
"All youth need healthy and supportive relationships with others to become successful, independent adults," Social Services Minister Lori Carr said. "Leaving care and beginning a life transition of this magnitude is a significant endeavour. We look forward to partnering with the Youth Advisory Teams and community-based organizations to strengthen engagement with youth in care and ensure they are connected to an array of services to support their transition to independence."
The concept of youth advisory teams is centered on giving youth a voice in the services provided to them; not only listening, but genuinely understanding and considering their experiences, their knowledge and their feedback on how to create and deliver those services and make them better for youth.
"Youth in care often feel as though they have a lack of control over their circumstances, so when we give them the opportunity to speak their mind on things and provide that constructive feedback, it gives them confidence and security in their circumstances moving forward," Provincial Youth Engagement Coordinator Christa Jurgens said. "This is extremely important, and I hope to see more youth speak their minds and for more youth-focused organizations to engage with youth on how things are done for them. I believe it would inspire so much helpful change."
In addition to the advisory teams, the Youth Engagement Strategy builds on the success of EGADZ's Operation Runaway initiative and will work with community-based organizations across the province to expand the Youth Risk Assessment for missing youth and develop support options for hard-to-serve children and youth. It is intended to provide connections to various services that directly engage and support youth to prepare for their transition from care and pursue interdependence with family, friends and their community.
"Youth engagement is about empowering youth to identify the supports and services they need and facilitating those ideas," EGADZ Executive Director Don Meikle said. "This is the real meaning of power sharing - bringing young people to the table in a constructive manner, seeking solutions that are youth centered, and having participation from those that have been impacted by policies that may be outdated and need a current lens. Youth are the experts in identifying needs and what safety looks like for them."
Operation Runaway focuses on listening and collaborating with youth to plan and deliver supports and services that better meet their needs. The EGADZ risk assessment is currently being extended to other community-based organizations in Saskatoon with a provincial rollout planned for 2022.
For more information, contact:Don Meikle
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