THUNDER BAY – City Councillor-at-Large and Children’s Advocate Frank Pullia wants an expanded role. In a report to be presented to Thunder Bay City Council on Monday night, Pullia states the goal is to, “Bring back the Children Charter Coalition that used to be under the stewardship of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit but has not been operational since its last report in 2010.
“It is recommended that the coalition now be under the Leadership of the City of Thunder Bay through the Child Advocate and in collaboration with other community organizations dealing with children and youth, and city departments as needed like the Crime Prevention Council, the Anti-Racism Committee, the Recreation and Youth Department, the City Clerk’s office”.
Since taking over the role as the City’s Child Advocate, Councillor Pullia says, “Fulfilling the role of the City’s Child Advocate has been a demanding but rewarding experience with extensive interaction occurring with three major organizations like the Child Care Taskforce, the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC) and the Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC)”.
Pointing to the information Pullia says he has gathered, there are serious issues that must be faced:
- Many gaps in reaching the at-risk groups of children and youth still exist especially in the neighborhood areas like Limbrick, the Blutcher/Windsor/Picton and other (gap analysis recently completed by the HKCC and the report can be provided if requested at healthykidstbay.com).
- Inability by some organizations like the Underground Gym and RMYC to access program funding through the regular process as a result of their organizational structure that does not fit the conventional regulatory and accountability process.
- Growing impact of social determinants of health, mental illness, homelessness and poverty in children and youth and limited opportunities by the conventional efforts to reach these groups at risk.
- The at-risk areas are now seeing an infiltration of gangs with resulting addiction and other dependency problems that make it more difficult for conventional approaches to work.
These gaps are as Pullia points out generating the opportunities that are creating the growth of gangs, and added crime as the police incident reports demonstrate. The issue is likely far larger than the scope that the Children’s Advocate can do.
Councillor Pullia points to some of the opportunities that could help make a difference:
- Protective services are now becoming more proactively engaged with children/youth to bridge the gap of trust and relationship building.
- The extensive review and analysis of the many studies done over the years (especially the Early Development Instrument (EDI) and Social Risk Index Data to determine levels of vulnerability in children by the Communities Together for Children (ctctbay.org), and the new emerging trends in successful neighborhood approaches like the Evergreen United Neighborhood in the Simpson/Ogden St. area (www.evergreenunited.ca) , are now allowing a deeper understanding and insight in collaborative solutions.
- The high-level engagement with a wide number of children and youth organizations by the City Child and Youth Advocate, has established a high level of trust and commitment to a more collaborative approach in the community of Thunder Bay and the desire to bring back the Children Charter Coalition.
The presentation and a resolution will be brought forward on Monday night by Councillor Pullia.