An open letter on Children and Youth in Care Day from Paul Rosebush, CEO of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

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Today, marks Children and Youth in Care Day in Ontario. This day was first proclaimed into law in 2012, and it serves as an opportunity to raise awareness within and beyond the child welfare sector about the many positive contributions current and former youth in care make to our community. Across our city and province, Child and Youth In care Day provides us all with an opportunity to unite in honour of the challenges they have courageously overcome and to think about how we can support their futures success and contributions to society.

Today means many things to many people, but today is really all about each and every child and youth in the province who was or is being raised in care. We know that the journeys of the young people we serve has not been easy. However, we have witnessed time and time again that when faced with adversity, it is their strength and bravery that has allowed them to move forward in life with great resilience and determination.

We have spoken with many youth over the years, and we have proudly seen many of our youth apply their unique lived experiences to become child welfare advocates, influencing policy and legislation, inspiring change, and reducing the stigma related to those in care.

At CAS Toronto, we are here to help children and youth find, create and achieve their goals by making supportive decisions with them – and not for them. We’re committed to working by their side to unlock their full potential by providing such things as housing, education, employment, financial literacy, health and counselling resources. Through our partnerships with fellow social service organizations, community agencies and government bodies, we're focused on establishing a broad range of supports and social networks in hopes that children and youth will have resources they can trust in and never feel like they are walking alone.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Children and Youth in Care Day has never been more important. Due to isolation, physical distancing as well as compounded financial, housing and mental health challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, it’s critically important that those served by Children’s Aid Societies and Indigenous Child and Family Well-Being Agencies feel a strong sense of connection to their communities and recognition for their challenging circumstances. Now more than ever, we must ensure that all children and youth in care feel seen, heard and supported.

While our communities may be navigating unprecedented times, the strength and potential of children and youth in care remains steadfast. Today, and indeed every day, we celebrate children and youth in care for their diversity, strengths and successes.