Recent media coverage continues to draw attention to the impact Central City Foundation is having in bringing neighbours together to build hope for the inner city. Our Hope Dialogue Series on the issues facing children and youth in our inner city brought together dozens of non profit leaders and members of our community in conversation Check out our report on the October session at https://www.centralcityfoundation.ca/impact/hope-dialogue-series/children-youth/.
Vancouver has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Canada. While there may not be quick or easy solutions to the long-standing, complex challenges faced by children, youth and families in our inner city, we believe by engaging in dialogue we can make a start on solving some of these long-standing issues.
Since 1907, Central City Foundation has been connecting neighbours and resources to remove barriers, create opportunities and build human capacity in Vancouver’s inner city. We provide space and place for community, with our social purpose real estate buildings, capital and program grants to community organizations, and space for discussion like this community-led Hope Dialogue Series.
Led by community leaders at our non profit community partners, about 100 donors and guests joined in conversation in a unique dialogue series about:
- how we got here, what are the root causes of systemic, inter-generational marginalization and barriers to opportunity for children and youth in the inner city of Vancouver
- what is working and not working to improve the lives of children and youth
- how we can work together in new ways to make changes and move towards solutions that address inequalities, social injustices and remove barriers for children and youth
Participants had lively discussions with our community leaders, covering many ideas, opinions, and perspectives. Focused around the three questions we posed, some key themes emerged from the dialogues.
What is working?
- When non profit organizations and agencies work in collaboration to create linkages between programs and organizations, more comprehensive and integrated supports are provided for children and youth.
- Programs that incorporate cultural components, such as connections with elders, drum making, Indigenous languages, arts and traditional healing, are creating a doorway into wellness and community building.
- Services that succeed are keeping families together, connecting youth with family members and meaningful people in their lives. These family-centered programs and spaces have more success than just child-centered spaces.
What isn’t working?
- Funding is generally restricted to programs and services that treat the problems instead of preventing them. More flexibility in funding is needed.
- The lack of affordable housing causes poverty and, associated with other socio-economic issues, results in families losing custody of their children.
- People of colour, immigrants, Indigenous peoples and female-led single parent homes are overrepresented among children, youth and families living below the poverty line.
- There aren’t enough staff to work with transition plans for youth aging out of the foster care system. The same is true for youth with mental health issues, trauma, grief, loss, and issues of self-harm and substance use.
What solutions can we work towards together?
- Advocate for revised funding formulas that allow organizations to build longer term relationships with families and other adults to support not just the child but the whole family.
- Engage graduates of the youth programs to mentor and support children. Can this be formalized through an education program/internship/practicum?
- Create more shared spaces where a hub or community organizations offer programs and share resources and information.
Central City Foundation will continue to bring together concerned members of our community with those working on the front lines of this issue. We will continue to amplify the voices of our community partners and highlight the needs of children and youth through events like this dialogue session.