A note from the president, July 2023

posted in: News

Hello Everyone,

I am so excited to share some more positive news with all of our members.

Yesterday (July 12, 2023), Gail Moillet, our Vice President, Mandy Dodgshon, our Advocacy Director, and I had an excellent meeting with Minister Mitzy Dean of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) as well as Catherine Talbot the Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives.

In the meeting, Gail took the lead in thanking the minister for the following initiatives:
47% increase in monthly maintenance for the majority of MCFD-supported programs. (NOTE: everyone who is eligible for the increase should have received a letter by now. If you are in a MCFD-funded program and have not received a letter or an increase in your monthly benefits, please let us know.)

Changes to the Tuition Fee Waiver program. (Read all about this and the next bullet in the attached document along with some recommended sites.)

In August the majority of youth aging out of care to continue to have access to housing and other benefits until their 27th birthday.

Top up in maintenance for our Child in Home of Relative (CIHR) program families to raise their rates to be equivalent to those on the Post Adoption Assistance (PAA) program.

Regarding this topic, I was very thankful that a friend, member and volunteer of Fairness, Jo Ann Braden shared that she had received a letter of increased maintenance for her PAA program. This information led to us checking the current rates on the website. It appeared that the new April increases had not been incorporated into the new top-up for CIHR. When I shared this with the Minister later in the meeting, she acknowledged the error and assured me it is in the process of being corrected, which means that for those children aged 14 – 19 the annual top-up will be changed from just under $6,000.00 to just over $8,000.00 annually. We want everyone who is on CIHR and whose child is currently on the program or who has aged out in April, May or June to ensure they receive their letter from MCFD. When you receive this follow the directions so that you will get this funding. If you do not receive a letter, please contact us and we will look into it for you.

As the meeting progressed, I raised some other issues. One of the asks we had was around forming a Kinship Care Advisory group, a suggestion from Catherine during the Gathering in June. The minister seemed to be very interested in going forward with this. She also committed to continue to meet and work with us which also is the go-ahead for Catherine to continue to work with us, which is awesome.

Mandy provided the Minister with her story with a focus on how the system is not working to lift up and support families. She identified the poor treatment and lack of respect she had experienced from MCFD over the 20 years that she advocated, not only for her grandson but for others. She also spoke to the fact that she needed there to be a systemic change in how social workers are trained and that the Ministry must acknowledge the different challenges that face kinship caregivers. These workers need to be well-versed in the different programs and fully transparent in answering questions and supplying assistance to our kinship caregivers.

The minister was very much present and also shared that there was a policy review happening and she would ensure that there was an opportunity for our input to be included.

I need you to know we are being seen, heard, respected and supported by those we are engaging with at the top level of MCFD. I thank everyone of you for all your support and patience as we continue to work on the multitude of issues that all of us face daily. I would also like to give a super thank you to all of those who attended the Gathering in Kamloops last month, it was such a pleasure to meet with you in person. Together we are a force to be reckoned with and we are making change.

Shari

Attachments: Addendum to July 2023 Update Email