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Former Barrie Crown ward to lead research study

'If it actually creates more equity or impact in the field, then we need to start creating models in policy that encourage it,' says advocate
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Former Crown ward Jane Kovarikova is shown in a file photo.

A new research project funded by the federal government will help Canada to take a step closer to finding ways to improve the child welfare system, says a former Barrie foster child and activist.

Jane Kovarikova, founder of the not-for-profit Child Welfare Political Action Committee Canada (Child Welfare PAC), will be the lead researcher in a study which she says aims to help improve child rights.

Nearly $2.5 million has been designated for a series of studies in four areas. Internationally, 41 researchers and 30 partner organizations will be involved in the research over the next seven years in Canada, the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. 

Kovarikova, a doctoral candidate at Western University, will lead one research study as part of the broader project involving those with lived experiences in foster-care systems. It is expected to take about 18 months starting in January and will investigate how their greater participation in advocacy roles across time can improve the child-protection sector.

Having spent the past four years working with other former Crown wards through Child Welfare PAC Kovarikova said she’s seen real value in the wisdom in people with lived experience no matter their age.

“If it actually creates more equity or impact in the field, then we need to start creating models in policy that encourage it,” she said.

The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant will fund the project, led by Dr. Tara Collins of Ryerson University.

The overall goal of the project is to fill in major data gaps to advance child rights by transforming research, policy, and practice through intergenerational partnerships that support participation of children.

“Our group (Child Welfare PAC) was one of the first that mobilized all sorts of people with lived experience regardless of age,” she said, adding that has led to them acquiring a mentoring role organically.

The project, she said, aims to measure that to see how that impacts the system.