In its own promotion of this special week that was held this past May, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has written this comment.
“Notice, Listen, Respect. Stand with children and youth in care. These are powerful words, and they hold a personal meaning for thousands of children and youth in government care across British Columbia.Let’s not be naïve or so self-congratulatory that we ignore the thousands of children who are in care but don’t want to be there.
To help acknowledge and celebrate children and youth in government care and to help combat negative stereotypes and social stigmas, the B.C. government is proclaiming May 23-29, 2011 as the first-ever B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week.
It was a youth-driven idea to create the week - and it's a first for British Columbia. B.C. is the only province in Canada to celebrate a week for children and youth in government care.”
Minister Mary McNeil and Child and Youth Representative, Turpel-Lafond both praised the initiative for the week have originated with children in care and in the accompanying YouTube video, the two women look like an affable duo. The government again pumped loads of dollars into this self-advertisement. The message is “We are doing great things for the children of this province and the children in care say so themselves.”
I would concur that the genesis for the week is laudable. Children in care for reasons for which they are not responsible, and with outcomes that are more optimistic than what was forecast in their parental homes, and with attitudes that speak well of the treatment they have received, should be appreciated.
Here’s the big however. Let’s not be naïve or so self-congratulatory that we ignore the thousands of children who are in care but don’t want to be there. Children whose lives are despondent because they miss their parents. Children who have been taken from their parents due only to suspicions of some neglect or abuse by caregivers but without substantial proof. Children whose experience in foster care is hard and risky. Children who do not fare well in these forced relationships and become statistics as they become delinquent or addicted or sexually victimized or criminal. Of course the Ministry is not going to parade these children and their stories. On the other hand can’t we sincerely acknowledge that these are also results of an aggressive child protection program where child removal is truly not a last resort. No, of course that will not be conceded publicly. That sounds too much like a job not so well done. Precisely! Then at least privately admit these realities within the Ministry and make adjustments to policy and procedure so that children can live with parents who are receiving substantial help from the Ministry by way of profound discussion, counselling, resources, follow-up, mediation, monitoring. Ministry action does not always have to be as punitive as it is for parents and children.
Out of respect for the young people who have dreamed and affected the realization of this week, here is their own hip-hop music video.