The Youth in Care Newsletter Project engages youth in care and youth on income assistance, 14 to 19 years old, in creating their own Newsletter, The Voice. Participants are referred by social workers, group homes, foster parents, therapists, and other youth.
Developing writing and communication skills are key elements of the 30-session program which meets in Halifax for two hours, one evening per week, between October and June.
Key elements include:
a) youth engagement,
b) writing, interviewing, presentation, and drawing,
c) pro-social skills and competencies including teamwork / collaboration, group decision-making, mutual respect, responsibility, initiative, and self-confidence,
d) developing the belief that they can make a difference (self-efficacy),
e) emotional literacy,
f) Web collaboration skills,
g) The possibility of school recognition or credit,
h) employability skills,
i) receiving a stipend,
j) creating their own résumés and portfolios, and
k) establishing connections to the community.
Youth who are in high school may log hours towards a half-credit per year (one full credit over two years) through Co-op Education, as long as their attendance is sufficient and they can demonstrate the skills and competencies they've developed. They do this by assembling their own portfolio, and submitting it to their guidance counsellor / Co-op Education Coordinator. Arrangements are made on an individual school basis.
Youth who are in junior high can receive school recognition of their achievement in the program, also by submitting their portfolio.
Employability skills include: showing up on time, doing writing assignments, learning to work as part of a team, public speaking, conducting interviews, note-taking, creating Google Documents and collaborating via the Web, and goal setting.
The senior youth mentor the younger participants and help facilitate the sessions. Youth must be receiving services from the Department of Community Services when they enroll, but if they leave care they can continue to be involved in the Newsletter Project. Over 135 youths have enrolled in the program since it began in 2000.
Two thousand Newsletters are printed and distributed annually to group homes, social workers, foster family associations, youth groups, educators, community partners, government officials, and the media. The Newsletter Project operates through Youth Voices of Nova Scotia Society, a non-profit organization. The Newsletter Project's agency sponsor is the Department of Community Services, Halifax District Office—Child Welfare.