In Spring of 2020 when workers were sent home, programs and schools closed and the children and youth in our communities found themselves disconnected from many of the resources and supports they relied on to thrive, and in many cases – survive. The children and youth sector rallied together to adapt and innovate, creating new ways to connect and support children and youth. Front-line workers picked up their phones, delivered care-packages, learned how to use Zoom and Google classroom and created safe spaces in ways they never had before. This, all at a time when young people were experiencing a deterioration in their overall mental health (Cost, K.T., et al., 2021).
During this time, the absence of strong voices for the children and youth sector at the centre of national policy dialogue became more evident than ever before. Children and youth serving agencies have been there for Canada’s youngest generation all along, and will continue to be there every day, learning, growing, and building back better. And yet, they have been the most under-appreciated and under-represented sector in terms of shaping pandemic public policy and delivery services.
In response, sector leaders came together, and the National Alliance for Children and Youth was reborn to help the sector’s organizations reconnect, learn from each other, and speak to the priority needs of Canada’s children and youth sector. Through a series of consultation, round tables, one-on-one meetings, group meetings and surveys, we identified four areas where the federal government could playa critical role in supporting our efforts.
Read the NACY 2021 Policy Recommendations .