Fifty current and former youth in care are on their way to achieving their postsecondary dreams with assistance from FACS Niagara and the Foundation for Family and Children’s Services.

At FACS Niagara’s 123rd Annual General Meeting on June 16, the youths were officially announced as recipients of postsecondary grants totalling over $100,000. Many of the grant recipients are looking ahead to careers helping others by pursuing a degree or diploma in programs such as medical sciences, police foundations, the social service worker program, and child and youth care.

“It is so gratifying to see young people in our community persevere and succeed,” said Anna Bozza, Executive Director of FACS Niagara. “We wish them well in their studies and know they have very bright futures ahead of them. Our thanks also go to the Foundation and their generous donors for making these educational bursaries possible.”

At the AGM, the FACS Board welcomed its new President, Brian Minard. Now retired, Brian has dedicated his career to child welfare and has been a member of the FACS Board for eight years. He succeeds former President Shaun Adams, who recently completed his three-year term as President.

“I am very honoured to have the opportunity to lead this Board of dedicated volunteers, working to support and strengthen the lives of children and youth in our region,” said Minard. “I would like to thank Shaun for his leadership, which has left us in a tremendous position to continue growing and making a positive impact on our community, which has needed our agency’s services more than ever during this global pandemic.”

In the spirit of continued growth, the Board has also added new expertise in Dr. Karim Ali, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases & Antimicrobial Stewardship Program for Niagara Health, and Wendy Sturgeon, Executive Director of the Niagara Chapter of Native Women.

As Niagara Health’s Pandemic Preparedness Lead, Dr. Ali has been on the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Ali is board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases. He is a dedicated community member who can often be found volunteering his time with Positive Living Niagara’s Streetworks program.

Of Anishinaabe, Potawatomi and British descent, Wendy Sturgeon carries regional, provincial, and national knowledge through her varied roles within the Indigenous community. She has served many years on the Ontario Native Women’s Association Board of Directors, as well as with the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Support Services and Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara boards.

FACS Niagara is a multiservice agency providing child welfare, counselling, fostering and adoption services to the 12 municipalities that make up the Niagara region. In 2020-21, the team at FACS Niagara responded to more than 6,200 child protection referrals and provided services to more than 5,400 children and youth in our community. The agency provides ongoing services to more than 800 families at any one time.

The 2020-21 Annual Report can be viewed by clicking here.