Irwin Elman wins the 2019 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award for changing lives of children in child welfare

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Irwin Elman wins the 2019 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award for changing lives of children in child welfare

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Sept. 11, 2019 /CNW/ - This evening at Children's Aid Foundation of Canada's Stand Up for Kids Night, Irwin Elman was announced as the winner of the 2019 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award, which recognizes extraordinary Canadians or initiatives that have made an indelible mark on the child welfare landscape.  

As winner of The Lynn Factor Stand Up For Kids National Award, Mr. Elman will direct $50,000 and the five short-list finalists will direct $5,000 each in grants from Children's Aid Foundation of Canada to a child welfare, child rights or child- and youth-serving organization.

"Irwin Elman has devoted his life to advocating for children and youth," says Donald Guloien, Chair of The Lynn Factor Stand up for Kids National Award Committee."He has been a galvanizing force in ensuring the voices of children and young people in care are heard and in helping them fight for what they deserve – the opportunity to reach their full potential." 

Mr. Elman has dedicated his 30-plus year career to transforming the child welfare and residential systems of care. Most recently, Irwin held the position of Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth in the Office of the Provincial Advocate. As an independent officer of the legislature, he partnered with children and youth in and from foster care and the children's services system to create an exemplary model of child advocacy. Through reports such as Feathers of Hope; Hair Story: Rooted; We Have Something to Say and many others, Irwin led staff in providing young people the opportunity to name their world and make change.

Among Irwin's accomplishments in driving change in the quality of care, safety and accountability for children in care was his role in leading and supporting staff and youth in the creation of the Our Voice Our Turn (OVOT) initiative in 2011, focused on improving the outcomes for youth in and from care. The young people of OVOT hosted a first youth-led Youth Leaving Care Hearings, at the Ontario Legislature, which created the opportunity for stakeholders to have input into how supports and services could be provided to those in the province's care. The event was considered a pioneering moment in Ontario in advancing the rights of young people. OVOT presented My REAL life Book, a report on the Youth Leaving Care Hearings, including key recommendations to help raise awareness, reduce stigmas and recognize the needs of youth in care. This led the provincial government to establish the Youth Leaving Care Working Group, which produced the Blueprint for Fundamental Change to Ontario's Child Welfare System.

The other 2019 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award finalists included:

  • Sara Austin, Founder and CEO of Children First Canada (Calgary, Alberta)
  • Melanie Doucet, Former Youth in Care, PhD Candidate and Sessional Instructor at McGill University School of Social Work (Montreal, Quebec)
  • Wade Johnston, Executive Director, Chisholm Services for Children (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • Dr. Heather Modlin, Provincial Director, Key Assets Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's, Newfoundland)
  • Tammy Roberts: Executive Director, Foster Family Coalition of the Northwest Territories(Yellowknife, Northwest Territories)

"This year's award finalists from across the country are champions for change and leading important initiatives in their own communities to improve the lives of those in Canada's child welfare system," says Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO, Children's Aid Foundation of Canada. "We encourage Canadians to join them in taking a stand in support of children and youth who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and neglect."

The finalists and 2019 winner were selected by the Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award Committee, a group of community and business leaders recognized for their passion and dedication to making a difference in the lives of kids in the child welfare system: Committee Chair Donald Guloien, Lynn Belzberg, Dylan Cohen, Phillip Crawley, Dr. Barbara Fallon, Anna Amy Ho, The Right Honourable David Johnston, The Honourable Peter MacKay, Susan McIsaac, Paul Rosebush and Rob Sedran.

Established in 2018, the award is named in honour of Lynn Factor, C.M., O.Ont, MSW, a long-standing Children's Aid Foundation of Canada volunteer and past Board Chair, who as a social worker by profession has served for over 35 years on the frontlines of child welfare and has seen the damaging impact on children living under the weight of abuse, neglect and trauma. In recognition of Lynn Factor's extraordinary commitment to Canada's most vulnerable children, Children's Aid Foundation of Canada and Lynn's husband, Sheldon Inwentash, named the Stand Up for Kids National Award in her honour.

The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award is part of Children's Aid Foundation of Canada's Stand Up for Kids national campaign for child welfare, which is mobilizing Canadians who want to help change the future for Canada's most at-risk children and youth.

About Children's Aid Foundation of Canada
Children's Aid Foundation of Canada is our country's leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth growing up in the child welfare system. We raise and grant funds, and deliver a wide range of high-impact programs and services in partnership with 74 child-and youth-serving agency partners that support more than 22,200 vulnerable young people and 3,500 families annually. Stand Up for Kids is our national campaign for child welfare, which aims to change the futures of Canada's most at-risk kids – those who have experienced abuse and neglect. We know that by helping these young people to overcome their trauma and break the cycle for future generations, they gain the strength and resilience to create a lifetime of their own unstoppable successes. 

SOURCE Children's Aid Foundation of Canada

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