Saturday September 24th, 2022
Thank you to all who attended the meeting via Zoom.
We are happy to confirm we have a full slate on our Board of Directors for the coming year.
Here is the President’s Report submitted by Shari Monsma, president of Fairness for Children Raised by Relatives.
Fairness for Children Raised by Relatives has had a very successful year.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Board of Directors and all our members to publicly express our gratitude to Jane Bouey, Program Manager, Mobilization and Advocacy with Parent Support Services, for all her leadership, mentorship and support. It is due to Jane’s tireless dedication to kinship care families, her research and her constant efforts for improvement which have brought us, kinship caregivers, together and provided us with the inspiration to use our passion to create Fairness, a platform for self-advocacy.
After registering as a non-profit society on August 5, 2021, we finalized our board of directors and were able to accomplish the following:
- The creation and maintenance of the following marketing collateral: membership form, logo, social media accounts (FB page, Twitter and Instagram) and our Fairness website.
- Fairness sent our first formal written submission to the Minister of Finance Standing Committee for Budget 2022, outlining the inequities in the Child in Home of Relative (CIHR) and 54.01 and 54.1 programs.
- The MLA campaign was the first time we garnered the support of kinship caregivers to forward a generic letter in addition to their personal story to their MLA, along with the submission.
- Individual kinship caregivers received follow-up letters from their MLAs and, in some cases, invitations to meet with them in person to discuss ongoing concerns.
- Fairness received emails from MLAs who had been informed about our submission to MCFD. In one instance, the MLA showed us the response from the Minister Dean of MCFD, which detailed the new monthly maintenance as well as information related to other issues.
- A press release shared that the 2022 budget contained an acknowledgement that one of our requests for the 54.01 and 54.1 families regarding monthly maintenance payments for kinship care for children with disabilities had come to fruition. The announcement led to the following actions:
- Creation of a news release regarding the FCRR involvement in the change.
- Creation and sending of a letter to Minister Dean of MCFD regarding what had transpired and that we appreciated what they had done and look forward to future work with them.
- Fairness was granted the opportunity to meet with the Minister Dean of MCFD. We presented the two topics related to our formal written submission and then engaged in a short informal conversation with the Minister. During this conversation, the Minister confirmed her commitment to following up on the topics raised in the formal submission and stated that analysis was already underway. She appreciated that we not only outlined the issues but offered solutions and acknowledged our efforts and those of all kinship caregivers, she validated her understanding of the importance for children to be kept within their families. Fairness pushed for a timeline, but the process of government change is lengthy. The Minister Dean of MCFD confirmed her commitment to continuing to communicate with Fairness and work towards improvements.
- Fairness was listed with BC211 (a database of resources) as an organization connecting all British Columbians to vital community programs and services for everyday needs and in times of crisis.
- In March, Fairness was introduced to First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society (a non-profit society committed to putting children and youth first through public education, community mobilization, and public policy advocacy) and attended one of their meetings. Subsequently, in April, one of our members was invited to speak to the gains for the 54.01 and 54.1 families regarding monthly maintenance payments for the kinship care children with disabilities program. After attending this meeting, we were invited to return and provide a presentation on our society the following month. With many members in attendance, there were many questions following the presentation. They graciously expressed their respect and admiration for what we had accomplished to date and our goals for the future and invited us to join them as an affiliate. Fairness was officially named an affiliate member at their May meeting.
- As a result of our first presentation to First Call, Fairness was presented an opportunity to work with a current UBC Journalism student, Megan Wilde, on a video about kinship care families. While this project has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, Megan has offered to continue the project in the late Spring of 2023. I would like to thank everyone who has volunteered and we will keep in touch.
- Parent Support Services introduced us to West Coast LEAF (Legal Education and Action Fund); this organization promotes substantive equality, an approach that recognizes and celebrates differences. Fairness has attended some of their meetings, provided input related to kinship care on their MCFD Specialised Homes Submission, shared our processes related to the Family Services Legislative Reform, and reviewed their submission.
- The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) is a national, bilingual, independent organization. They encourage their members to use their expertise to bring about change, particularly concerning women’s issues such as violence against women, early learning and childcare, education, economic prosperity and women’s empowerment as leaders and decision-makers. Audrey Hobbs Johnson reached out to us in April to meet and discuss how they could support our advocacy work for Kinship care families. They have added kinship care advocacy as one of their organization’s policies. We plan to collaborate on an informative webinar regarding kinship care which will be shared with all their members and hopefully will be added to our site to educate the public on kinship care. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Audrey and her organization for all the support this year.
- On June 11th and 12th, in collaboration with and financial support from Parent Support Services, together we were responsible for the program development, organization and co-facilitation of our first face-to-face event with kinship caregivers in Nanaimo. The in-person event was a huge success, creating a safe space for our kinship caregivers to share their unique stories regarding their journey. It was an incredible bonding experience that shone a light on all the heart-wrenching struggles our exceptional kinship caregivers have gone through and their passion and strength in their continual fight to protect and provide the best possible care for their children. Continuation of these community gatherings will bring our families together and further unite us.
- On June 17, 2022, we presented to the Minister of Finance Standing Committee for Budget 2023. We focused once again on two MCFD-sponsored programs: Child in Home of Relative and 54.01/54.1 and the equities in these programs and added a third topic regarding equity with the new Foster Care agreements extending the age of youth aging out from Ministry programs to 27 years old.
- In June and July, we collaborated with MCFD in organizing special meetings for Kinship Caregivers to provide input into the Family Services Legislative Reform. The MCFD representatives acknowledged and respected that we were the only organization that requested that we facilitate these sessions. Our request ensured that our kinship caregivers were provided with a safe space to share their lived experiences about their relationship and dealings with MCFD. Building this relationship also garnered us special considerations regarding the formatting of the formal submission and allowed us to ensure that all comments from every participant would be processed. We must ensure our members are seen, heard, respected and supported.
This summer, our Board of Directors has been working on finalizing our Fairness Business Plan with the amazing leadership and educational support from Monica Candy, a Business Consultant. She has volunteered countless hours to this endeavour, and I want to thank her for her support of Fairness.
- Ongoing advocacy through government at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels to raise awareness for systemic change so that our kinship families receive the same rights, opportunities, and benefits as all other children in care in the province of B.C.
- Continue to highlight the three topics from previous submissions to the Ministry of Finance:
- Ensuring the kinship families still in the Children In the Home of Relatives (CIHR) program receive increased benefits equal to what other MCFD programs were granted in 2019.
- Ensuring the multiple needs of those kinship families under the 54.01/54.1 are addressed.
- Ensuring our youth aging out of care can have their benefits extended to the age of 27, the same as Foster Care.
- Provide support and education around kinship caregiving for our members and all kinship families.
- Educate local communities and government representatives of the truth around our stories and end the disrespect and astigmatism that surrounds our families.
- Community outreach to find all the kinship care families living in fear of losing their children and therefore are not availing themselves of the support they may be eligible to receive.
- Offer Gatherings (face-to-face events) at least once or twice annually to allow kinship families the opportunity to meet, share stories, and prioritize their needs.
- Creation and implementation of a financial plan to sustain the goals of our society.
- Completion of our formal business plan
- Researching and applying for grants, etc.
- Member recruitment.
- Growing and expanding our network to include associate members, professionals and others to assist us in our projects.
- Building and sustaining relations through affiliations and partnerships with like-minded organizations and non-profit societies to share resources and collaborate on joint submissions.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge each and everyone of our members, all of the wonderful volunteers and supporters who have stepped up and helped out, and our amazing Board of Directors, ours is a labour of love and we will not stop until we have equality for all of our kinship care families.
Do you want to be part of this dynamic organization, and use your voice to make change? Join the society to get on our mail list and vote at the AGM!
As our non-profit society continues its growth and evolution, we look to you our kinship families to grow our membership. Together we continue to identify our families’ needs and continue advocating for equity, inclusion, and fairness.