In January 2013, the Youth Leaving Care Working Group, established by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) in conjunction with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, released the Blueprint for Fundamental Change to Ontario’s Child Welfare System (the Blueprint), a plan to better support and prepare young people in the care of children’s aid societies (CASs) to reach their full potential. The Working Group, comprised of youth with experience living in care, and community partners, made a number of recommendations for system change, which are reflected in the Blueprint.
Among the recommendations, the Blueprint highlighted the importance of supportive, long-lasting relationships to the success of children and youth formerly in care. Specifically, it was recommended that children and youth in care be provided with the opportunity “to be matched with peer-mentors who have been in care or adult mentors from the community with formalized mentoring organizations that meet their individual needs (e.g. sexual identity and orientation, cultural identity, etc.).”
Community partners across the province have indicated that there is a need to collect research, articulate elements of effective practice and disseminate information to enable them to efficiently develop and deliver high quality mentoring programs to children and youth who are involved with, or have had previous involvement with, the child welfare system in Ontario.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada was contracted by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to develop and disseminate a practical, evidence-informed resource guide for Children’s Aid Societies and their community partners that outlines best practices and guidelines for mentoring children and youth who are, or have been, in receipt of child protection services. The intent of this resource guide is to support CASs and their community partners in developing, delivering and/or accessing high-quality mentorship opportunities for the young people they are serving.
This resource draws from both the expertise of Ontario’s Child Welfare System and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ontario’s Children’s Aid societies are leaders in enhancing and promoting the welfare and well-being of children, youth and families. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is the leading national volunteer-based mentoring organization committed to providing youth with high quality, volunteer based mentoring programs. They are the recognized expert in delivering mentorship services, including recruiting, screening, and training mentors, matching them with youth, and monitoring matches.