Nova Scotia’s vulnerable children and youth continue to fall through the cracks in our province.
They need their voices heard.
We're calling for the creation of a Child and Youth Advocate office to protect and promote the rights of Nova Scotia children and youth.
Why advocate for a Child and Youth Advocate office?
A Child and Youth Advocate office will ensure that children and youth rights are respected and valued.
A Child and Youth Advocate office will create a strong child and youth voice and contribute immense value to Nova Scotia’s political decision making.
Nova Scotia is one of the only provinces without a Child and Youth Advocate office.
A Child and Youth Advocate office will advocate for holistic and coordinated services for children and youth.
A Child and Youth Advocate office will improve timely, accessible and adequate service provision for at risk children and youth and their families.
Our letter to Nova Scotia's Premier Stephen McNeil asking that the provincial government support legislation and put the resources in place to create a Child and Youth Advocate office:
Dear Premier Stephen McNeil,
The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers is asking that your government support legislation and put the resources in place to create a Child and Youth Advocate office in Nova Scotia.
As social workers, we see firsthand how Nova Scotia’s vulnerable children and youth continue to fall through the cracks of our services. A Child and Youth Advocate office would prioritize the voices of these vulnerable children and youth and it will combine individual advocacy with vibrant policy and systemic advocacy. It will advocate for holistic and coordinated services for children and youth and will also create timely, accessible and adequate service provision for at risk youth and their families.
Nova Scotia is one of the only provinces without a crucial Child and Youth Advocate office.
In addition, offices are also involved in right-based public education, conflict resolution, conducting independent reviews and making recommendations to governments on programs and services delivered to children and youth.
A Child and Youth Advocate office would create a strong child and youth voice and contribute immense values to Nova Scotia’s political decision making.
Policies and programs in our province that directly serve children and youth have lacked child and youth voices. This leads to services and programs that fall short of their intended outcomes. The changes to the Child Youth and Family Service Act, poverty reduction commitments, program changes to mental health and addiction services and reforms to inclusive education all lacked child and youth voices.
A Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) study (http://bit.ly/CASWReport) on the child protection system in Canada emphasized how the system is over-represented by Indigenous and other minorities such as Black Canadian children and youth.
An NSCSW FOIPOP request showed that applications to the provincial court’s Family Division under the Child and Family Services Act increased by 8% after the Act was implemented. This indicates that more intrusive interventions are happening more often. This is not the intent of the province’s child protection services.
The Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health’s Raising Canada report (www.childrenfirstcanada.com) paints a startling picture of the state of Canada’s children. It states that suicide is the second leading cause of death of Canadian children and youth. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 66% increase in emergency department visits, and a 55% increase in hospitalizations, of children and youth due to mental health concerns. In Nova Scotia alone 806 children were hospitalized for mental health concerns in 2016.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia also reported that child poverty has increased from 18.1% in 1989 to 21.5% in 2016.
We call on you to support the creation of a Child and Youth Advocate office to ensure that the voices of our province’s children and youth are at forefront of the policies and programs that actively serve them.
Alec Stratford MSW, RSW
On behalf of the NSCSW Council
Here's how you can help
Join the conversation online & hashtag #childyouthadvocatens
Write a letter advocating for a Child and Youth Advocate Office to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil at:
Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
P.O. Box 726
Sign this petition if you agree it’s time to make children’s rights a priority in our province
Add your name & email below to receive updates on our advocacy efforts:
About the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) exists to serve and protect Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity. Learn more at nscsw.org.