The impact of relational permanency and mentorship on care leavers in British Columbia

Date

2022-05-02

Authors

Lobbezoo, Allyssa

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Abstract

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has identified the importance of permanency for children and youth in care, defined as “permanent, stable relationships” which “are a major determinant of whether children feel safe and secure and therefore, of well-being overall” (MCFD, n.d.). However, currently only 20% of children and youth transitioning from government care in British Columbia (BC) achieve it, while the remaining 80% are left to navigate a complex adult system and the incumbent challenges that ensue on their own (GBC, 2019). Limited research has been conducted on the impact of relational permanency and mentorship, or the lack thereof, on care leavers in BC; this thesis examines this topic, identifies mentorship programs for youth in or recently out of care, and recommends system improvements based on policy reviews, literature reviews, and interviews with care providers and youth transitioned from care. The literature review highlights the importance of youth mentorship as a support for youth in and/or transitioned from care as well as the root causes of systemic issues within the child welfare system. The policy review uncovers gaps and inconsistencies within MCFD’s policies and practices that enable discretionary decision-making and undermine consistency and clarity. The interviews expose ongoing community-based mentoring (CBM) program, care leaver, and system level challenges, as well as opportunities to improve outcomes for youth in and/or transitioned from care. Ultimately, this research highlights the importance of relational permanency in the lives of children and youth in and transitioned from care, while drawing attention to the reasons that many care leavers do not attain it. Additionally, it demonstrates the effectiveness of CBM programs and identifies the need and opportunity for system change, both at the provincial level and specific to MCFD. The proposed recommendations provide implementable solutions to the identified policy gaps and inconsistencies, as well as a systems level reform to the purpose and role of MCFD.

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Keywords

Relational permanency, Care leavers, Community-based mentoring, School-based mentoring, Youth initiated mentoring

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