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Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton makes a difference

Former youth in care now works with local support program

Family Day is a reminder of how the word "Family" has many layers of meaning for children and youth being raised by people who have opened their hearts and homes to others.

Especially those with foster parents, adoptive parents, and also those with extended family members or friends who make room for youngsters in need. Here is one such story.

When Cassandra was three years old, she was taken into care.


Now an adult, she still has a strong bond to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton (CAFH), and she’s determined to help others who’ve also had traumatic childhoods.

Cassandra is an Ambassador for CAFH, and also a veteran of two different roles. The first was as a Youth in Care worker within the Halton Children’s Aid Society when she was a 17-year-old student. Now, she’s a Transitional Youth Worker with Bridging the Gap, a program supported with funding from CAFH. A program that Cassandra, herself, benefited from, when she needed it most.

Cassandra supports youth between the ages of 16-24 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. “Most of my clients are 16 to 18. They may have been kicked out or they may have been couch-surfing. I help them in any way I can, connecting them to agencies and youth shelters. Young people who’ve suffered trauma in childhood supress their emotions just to survive. This comes out in behaviours that indicate they’re struggling physically or mentally, such as with addictions. We deal with much more than finding them a place to sleep,” she explained.

Cassandra continued, “It’s just terribly hard for the majority of kids. Some yell and scream but based on the trauma, that makes sense. If you understand, you don’t give up. I need to have lots of patience, because my goal is to be their anchor so they can pull themselves up. Housing is essential; it gives stability, a safe place to stay.”

Her own experiences with foster families and group homes give her a unique connection point. “If it’s appropriate, I divulge, but not always. It’s about how to help them. We’re all different.”

Cassandra highlighted that the generosity of donors enabled her to graduate from both college and university. “If I have a dream, it’s to become a millionaire so I can become the Foundation’s biggest donor.”

She added, “Funding moves our children off the streets, out of sleeping bags. Shortages keep them unprotected. Shortages also lead to low staffing and extraordinary pressure on case workers, which leads to burnout.”

Cassandra knows the difference support can make. “I was once the child battling poverty and family dysfunction. I was once that angry teenager, and Halton CAS and the Foundation stuck by me. They still hired me. They really cared. I am one of the children who knows their life has been better than it would have been, because Halton CAS and CAFH wrapped around me. That’s a tough legacy, but it’s true. Still, you’ve got to take the opportunities you’re given. You can create your own happiness,” she said.

Of course, Cassandra is right, but generosity and the opportunities it creates also help.

If you wish to make a donation to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton, and support youth in need in this community, please reach out.

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