Our Youth Programs

YOUTHCAN - Youth [Communications, Advocacy, Networking]

Mission Statement

The Ontario Youth Communications and Advocacy Network, as the unifying voice for youth in care, 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 full potential.

YouthCan Program Overview



  • Youth Voice on OACAS Committees
  • Ad-hoc advocacy by Youth Program Coordinators
  • Youth Policy and Advisory Group [YPAAG]-established in 2006, consists of youth from across the province, meets 3-4 times per year and is considered a credible representation of youth to the Ministry.

Networking-Regional YouthCan groups

  • Resources for Regional Activities
  • Purpose is to build relationships amongst youth in care/leaving care; develop leadership and self-help skills
  • Support is provided to local groups where appropriate, and where we can, given our resources
  • Regional YouthCan zones include Central, Grand River, South West, Eastern, Northern and North East.
  • Each agency is represented by 2-3 Youth Leaders* and one staff person [Youth Champion**] and meets monthly on average in each zone.
  • Criteria for Regional Activities include; a learning/skill development component, must involve the majority of agencies in the zone, activities must be youth oriented and involve the Youth Leaders in planning and must not be something that individual agencies are already doing.
  • Youth benefits:  The chance for youth to be with others who may share similar experiences and develop peer relationships that may last beyond aging out.  Youths learn new skills and experiences and establish meaningful youth-adult relationships.

* Youth Leaders are youth in care that represent their agency at regular meetings, events and initiatives. Youth must be mature, committed, able to participate in a group setting and have a passion for improving the lives of all youth in care. Youth Leaders make a minimum 1 year commitment to YouthCan.

**Youth Champions are staff members that attend to help facilitate and support the youth.

CWECT [Crown Ward Education Championship Team]

The intent of the Crown Ward Education Championship Team is to enhance the working relationship and communication among partners in order to provide a collaborative approach in meeting the education needs of children and youth in the care of a Children’s Aid Society.  The Crown Ward Education Championship Team is a community partnership designed to enable better education, training and employment opportunities for all children and youth in the care of Children’s Aid Societies.

  • DARE: To inspire and support a child or youth in care.
  • DREAM: Of the possibilities when their success is achieved.
  • DO: Increase your knowledge and understanding of the needs of children and youth in care.

CWECT YAC [Youth Advisory Committee]

The Youth Advisory Committee is an initiative made through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.  This is the first time the three Ministries have united and come together with a plan to improve educational outcomes for Crown Wards.  The Youth Advisory Committee’s role is to be a collective voice for all Crown Wards in our local regions [Highland Shores, Prince Edward and Frontenac/Lennox and Addington].  The Youth Committee members are between the ages of 14 and 21 and are Crown Wards or previously Crown Wards on ECM [Extended Care and Maintenance] and meet monthly as a group as well as meet individually with the Youth Leader.  The role of the Youth Advisory Committee is to provide the Crown Ward Educational Championship Team with the perspectives, thoughts and ideas of Crown Wards on how to support youth in furthering education.

Me To We

The Me to We group meets on Thursday's throughout the year with a varying degree of regularity depending on what is on our agenda. This group attends We Day in Toronto in September and is inspired to pick up the Me to We philosophy that is eloquently developed and articulated by Craig and Marc Keilburger. These youth then return to our area to take on a local action (this year they raised over 400 lbs. of food for the Gleaners Food bank) and a global action.  This year's global action will be to raise the money to build a well near the school they fundraised the bricks for last year. The staff of HSCA has gotten behind these initiatives and assisted in fundraising by supporting our BBQ, Bake Sale and high heel race (special thanks to the male staff who participated in this event). The youth who participate are caring, energetic and empathetic individuals.  The youth who participate in these projects experience what it is like to give back to others and feel that their actions can indeed make a difference.  HSCA is the only society that is invited to WE Day a distinction we enjoy.

Thursday Night Youth Group

This group is being held in the Belleville site Independent Living Room every Thursday from 6-8 pm for Youth in Care that are 14-21 years of age.  Activities include incorporating Life Skills such as cooking, nutrition, obtaining employment, healthy relationships, personal safety as well as participation in recreational activities such as movies, bowling, games and celebrating holidays.  There are typically 10-20 youth that attend on a weekly basis. 

Board Youth Advisory Committee

The Committee is comprised of two staff and several youth in care designed to support the youth in their work with the Board and assisting them in bringing ideas forward to the Board.  The Youth Advisory Committee will have quarterly meetings with board members.