October is Foster Family Month, the perfect time to honour the many people who are making a difference in the lives of children and youth and helping them build brighter futures.
Foster families provide a safe and secure environment to foster children in transition, from infants to teenagers, making a lasting commitment, often years long. When children are removed from their homes, many have experienced difficult times and are scared and wary. Earning their trust can be a slow process, but connections are important for all children and youth.
Today is a day to reflect on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, an entirely preventable, invisible affliction that leaves those born with it facing life-long challenges and frequently living marginalized lives.
FASD is caused by mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Health Canada estimates that approximately nine in every 1,000 infants are born with FASD. Brain damage can include problems with learning, memory, attention, problem solving, vision and hearing. Those with FASD may not understand social situations, and their behaviour can be seen as challenging.
International Youth Day is held on August 12th of every year to celebrate the achievements of the world’s youth and to encourage their participation in positive contributions to society. It is also a day to reflect on the challenges facing youth today, and what progress we are making in British Columbia to address them.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has announced that it will be expanding the screening of families participating in the Child in the Home of a Relative (CIHR) program to include those families accepted prior to December 2007.
I am pleased and deeply encouraged that the Ministry is taking this step to help ensure the safety and well-being of all children and youth in the CIHR program.
I am so pleased that May 23–29, 2011 has been declared “B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week.” It gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the lives, the hopes and the futures of the more than 8,300 children and youth in B.C. who are in the care of government.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes the right of children and youth to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury, abuse, neglect, or exploitation. As the Representative for Children and Youth, the convention is the basis of my work towards helping children and youth live in safer communities and families, free from harm and injury.
In honour of Foster Family month, I offer my personal thanks to B.C’s foster parents, for their hard work and dedication to the young people they are helping.
There is a great proverb that says “one generation plants the trees, another gets the shade”. Know that the work you are doing to support and strengthen the lives of the children in your care is an investment that will result in a stronger and more resilient group of adolescents and adults, who will be better equipped to deal with life’s challenges.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is an important part of the push to end this preventable disability. It is absolutely essential to increase awareness of FASD, of the danger of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and of the need to support children with FASD.
In spite of society’s increasing knowledge about its effects, children continue to be born after being exposed to high amounts of alcohol while in the womb.