B.C. foster kids benefit from Vancouver Foundation’s foresight

published on December 28, 2017 by Charlie Smith in The Georgia Straight

A $1.1-billion philanthropic organization has gone to extraordinary lengths to give youths leaving government care a better chance at success

Rachel Malek hasn’t always had a smooth road in life. After leaving home at the age of 14, she experienced homelessness and exploitation, and was involved with the foster-care system. She also endured some mental-health challenges along the way.

But Malek’s life took a positive turn when she met Kris Archie, an Indigenous woman who was then managing the Vancouver Foundation’s Fostering Change initiative. It’s a multiyear effort with a mission to “improve policy practice, and community connections for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood”.

Fostering Change aims to achieve this by amplifying young people’s voices in planning and decision-making that affects them directly.

“We were part of a group called the Seven Sisters Collective that was organizing a memorial for young people in care who had been lost,” Malek recalled in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight. “She told me about this trip that Fostering Change was doing to Olympia.”

Malek accepted Archie’s invitation to join about 40 young people who travelled to the Washington state capital by bus in early 2016 to witness a couple of hundred former youths in care and formerly homeless young people speak to state politicians.

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