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New child advocate expects good, not always 'comfortable', relations with B.C. government

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B.C.'s new child and youth advocate says there is a 'hunger for change'

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – British Columbia’s new child and youth advocate is no stranger to the system she’s hoping to improve.

Doctor Jennifer Charlesworth now has five years to work with — and sometimes against — the provincial government.

“Advocacy is in my bones and I’m really passionate about it. Why would I not take this opportunity and see what I can do at this point in my career?”

Charlesworth’s work with children dates back to 1977.

She’s also a member of the executive team that helped create the Ministry for Children and Families following an extensive review by retired judge Thomas Gove.

“The context has changed since the Gove Inquiry. We have a lot more awareness of the impact of colonization, residential schools. We weren’t having those conversations back then.”

Her nomination as Representative for Children and Youth was unanimously approved Monday, Oct.1 in Victoria.

Charlesworth tells NEWS 1130 she plans to spend the next five years working mostly with the provincial government, but says there is a hunger for some change.

“I fully expect that the government will push back on a number of things. Fundamentally, if we put children and youth at the centre, my hope is that we will — even if we don’t agree on the actual direction, specific implementation — I’m hoping we will find ways of agreeing on the need for change in certain areas.”

She adds her priorities include reducing the number of Indigenous children in foster care, as well as helping those with mental health and substance abuse issues.