OACAS regularly seeks the input of young people on policies, programs, and services to ensure their voices are at the forefront of recommendations or changes being implemented by our team, our members, and/or the provincial government. We also support and manage several programs aimed at improving the lives of young people in and from the child welfare system. These include:
- The Aftercare Benefits Initiative: Youth who have left or are leaving care are eligible to enroll in the Aftercare Benefits Initiative (ABI) providing comprehensive prescription, dental, vision, extended health benefits, as well as a range of counselling and other life-skills supports (depression care, financial planning, career coaching, legal advice and much more). Full program details are available here.
- The Clark Bursary program: The Clark Bursary program was established in 1989 through a generous donation by Ron and Nancy Clark of Caledonia, with the goal of assisting youth in and from care to achieve their academic and career goals. OACAS administers the bursary on the family’s behalf. Find out more here.
- Take5: Take5 is an online space for children and youth in foster care, in residential care, or living away from their parents in Ontario. It was made with young people who have been in care. On Take5 you can find information on things like coping with stress, identity and culture, relationships, and who to ask for help. You can also find activities, podcasts, videos, and online events. Take5 is for children 6 to 12 and youth 13 and above. Take5 here!
- YouthCAN: Ontario YouthCAN is the unifying voice for youth in care of Children’s Aid Societies in the province, is dedicated to improving the quality of care for youth in Ontario’s child welfare system so that they are empowered, secure, and able to realize their fullest potential. Most years, through YouthCAN, OACAS organizes a conference to support the learning, connecting, and well-being of young people in the child welfare system.
- Children and Youth in Care Day activities: Every year on May 14, OACAS recognizes Children and Youth in Care Day as an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of current and former youth in care to the province, as well as reduce stigma and acknowledge their strength, bravery, and resilience in the face of adversity. See how we’re honouring the day here.