messagefromA Message from Robyn, our President & CEO -
A Look Forward

As we near the end of 2019, we reflect on the past year and all that we have to be grateful for at PolicyWise for Children & Families. We celebrated our fiscal year-end at our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Community Event at the end of September, and shared our work from the past year with partners, stakeholders, and community members. We are truly fortunate to be able to work with these individuals and organizations.
With the release of the Alberta Government budget, we look to our future in context of the challenges and opportunities presented and how it will impact children and families. We are particularly encouraged to see the Childrens' Services Outcomes focused on: "the well-being, resiliency, and cultural connections of children, youth, and families is nurtured and enhanced;" and "children and youth are supported through a continuum of government and community-based prevention and early intervention services that support the well-being of children and youth." I am pleased to say that, with our partners, we are well-positioned to help make these outcomes a reality.

Thank you for your continued support.

- Robyn Blackadar
Journey Home journey

Our partners, the Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA), recently released the moving video, Journey  Home which explores healing Indigenous children in the Canadian child welfare system. This research-based documentary highlights community approaches to ensuring children are meaningfully connected to their culture, community, and identity. 

We recommend that you take the time to watch and reflect on what this video is saying and how we can move forward in reconciliation. A launch event for the documentary is currently in the works for January 2020.
PolicyWise continues to work with the Alberta Nonprofit Network  (ABNN) and other partners on building the foundations for an Alberta Nonprofit Data Strategy.
For the last several months, we have been interviewing nonprofit stakeholders to hear their thoughts on nonprofit data capacity, data sharing, use of Government of Alberta data, and a data hub. These stakeholder interviews are key to shaping our understanding in more detail how nonprofits are accessing, collecting, and using data.   
We have also conducted an environmental scan on the use of data platforms and hubs, and how these models could be implemented in Alberta to better connect and support nonprofit organizations.
We are ready to convene our Data Hub, Government of Alberta Data, and Newcomer task teams to begin work on our project focus areas. These teams will meet from November 2019 to March 2020 and focus on further exploring how the needs of nonprofits can be met. Stay tuned for more updates!
Meet Rod Rode, new PolicyWise Board Member

We're pleased to welcome Roderick (Rod) Rode as the newest board member to the PolicyWise Board of Directors!

Rod graduated from the University of Alberta in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the Edmonton Division of the University of Calgary in 1979 and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Calgary in 1986. He worked for Alberta Children's Services for several years before joining The Family Centre of Northern Alberta in 1979. He held several positions at The Family Centre, retiring as the CEO in 2016. During his tenure, the agency adapted to significant funding and competitive challenges by producing demonstrable positive client outcomes, developing practice approaches based on emerging neuroscience, and building collaborative practice networks.
He has served on a number of Board over the years, among them the Canadian Evaluation Society, the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Alberta Association of Services to Children and Families, and Family Service Canada.
Rod lives in Edmonton with Charlotte, his partner of 46 years. They have two grown children and a granddaughter.
Welcome, Rod!
Integrated Youth Hub Initiative woodbuffalo

PolicyWise is currently engaging with 13 communities across Alberta to develop their Integrated Hub Model to address youth mental health in a community-based design approach. These communities are at varying phases in the implementation process across Alberta.  Below are updates from two of these communities:

Fort Saskatchewan
Community partners across the health, mental health, and community-serving sectors in Fort Saskatchewan saw the culmination of over two years of work come into fruition with the grand opening of the Integrated Hub, known as The Bridge, on October 10, 2019.
The Bridge was designed and implemented by a coalition of local community organizations including: Alberta Heartland Primary Care Network; Fort Saskatchewan Boys and Girls Club; Family and Community Support Services Fort Saskatchewan; Families First Society; Government of Alberta; Elk Island Public School Board; Elk Island Catholic School Board; Alt View Society; and Alberta Health Services.
Youth worked alongside the coalition in the form of a Youth Advisory Committee to ensure that decisions im pacting local youth were made by the youth themselves.

Their vision can be seen in the array of services offered through the Bridge as well as the way the space is laid out and decorated. Together, youth and members of the coalition have created a safe space to meet youth where they are at.

Wood Buffalo
The Wood Buffalo  Integrated Youth Hub hosted a Community Mapping Day on October 17, 2019. The day was spent co-creating integrated service delivery to improve access to community mental health resources, services, and treatment for the youth and young adults in the Wood Buffalo region. With 70 attendees ranging from high school students to community health professionals, the day was all about sharing and visioning, bringing the Integrated Youth Hub concept closer to reality.
The very talented graphic recorder, Joleyne Mayers-Jaekel, helped bring what was heard throughout the day to life with her incredible vision and artistic talent (shown below). A powerful moderated panel discussion was held with those with lived experience about navigating the community mental health systems including youth, parents, and professionals. PolicyWise presented about Integrated Hubs across Alberta and attendees participated in a community mapping exercise.

The Wood Buffalo Integrated Youth Hub is very excited to work alongside the community, especially youth, to bring their voices and ideas to fruition through more conversation, gatherings, and outreach. 

2019 Community Annual General Meeting AGM

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Community Event in September. 

We would especially like to recognize Tanya Pace-Crosschild, Deinera Exner-Cortens, Kate Storey, and Peter Choate, who were part of our AGM Research Panel, for joining us  and sharing all of the amazing work they and their organizations do for the communities they serve. You can watch the entire Panel Presentation on our YouTube channel.

Thanks also to the following organizations for taking part in our AGM Community Showcase:
Lastly, we could not do the work we do without the support from our community and the guidance and leadership of our partners, members, and board. We thank you.

2018/19 PolicyWise Reports

Want to learn more about PolicyWise and the work we do? You can now access the PolicyWise 2018/2019 Annual Report and 2018/19 Generating New Evidence Project and Research Report on our website

  • We have recently recruited two new members to join our team: Adriana Appau and Natasha Lifeso! Adriana is our new Research & Evaluation Associate based out of Calgary and Natasha is a former practicum student and data analyst who has returned to join our Edmonton office as a Project Coordinator. Welcome aboard, Adriana and Natasha! You can learn more about them and the rest of our team on our website.
  • We are partnering with the Alberta Health Services Addiction & Mental Health Strategic Clinical Networks to recruit 5 individuals as Regional Improvement Coaches. Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.
  • Read the latest article, "Policy Matters 2019" from The Philanthropist to learn about what the  nonprofit leaders in Canada consider to be top-of-mind in regards to public policy issues. Our President & CEO, Robyn Blackadar, weighs in on the implementation of Bill C-92 and its impact on Indigenous communities on page 27.
Access the full article here.
Spotlight: Meet Jax!  spotlight

Our Calgary team is fortunate to have some especially furry coworkers join them in their office from time to time. One of them is Jax who belongs to one of our PolicyWise Project Managers, Jennifer Medlock. Jax is about three and a half years old with quite a story. He was taken in by the Animal Rescue Foundation after being hit by a car in rural Saskatchewan in 2017 and had to have his leg amputated because of the accident. Though he's had a rough start to his life, he gets along very well on his three legs, especially at the dog park! Jax is a very happy dog and definitely seems to have found himself a loving family with the Medlocks.
We asked our Calgary staff what working with Jax is like.
Read their answers here!
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