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Samantha Pothier (Canada)

Sam Pothier is a former foster child from Vancouver, Canada. She has been volunteering and working within the youth in care community for 17 years. Ms Pothier worked and volunteered for the Federation of BC Youth in Care networks and is sat on the Board of Directors for the Youth in Care Canada. More recently, Sam was the project lead for the creation of AgedOut.com – an interactive website to help youth in care transition into adulthood. Sam’s areas of speciality are leadership development, life skills, education, curriculum development and transition support. The majority of her work is focused on youth in and from government care 14-25 years old. Additionally, Ms Pothier has strong skills and experience in governance, budgeting, fundraising, research and report writing.

1. Why do you believe in IFCO’s mission?
• I love the family-based solution to alternative care that IFCO believes in. Throughout the world, in developed, developing and underdeveloped countries you see children put into institutions and my personal belief is that they would do better in a family environment. I’m happy to be part of an organization that also knows that children thrive when they feel safe and connected. Family environments provide an opportunity for permanent relationships and every child deserves to have a person they can rely on.

2. What role on the Board and why did you join?
• I’m honoured to be the Secretary for the Board and representing Canada! I bring both personal and professional experience to IFCO. My care experience ranges from kinship care, foster care, group homes and independent living. Professionally, I have been volunteering and working in the foster care field for 17 years. Some of the work I am most proud of is youth engagement, leadership development, helping to create AgedOut.com (a website for youth aging out of care) and my current work in the community of Surrey, BC.

3. How does the work with IFCO affect your life?
• The largest impact this work has had for me is the relationship building. I have had the tremendous opportunity to connect with wonderful people from all over the world and learn, share stories and help build a stronger network of folks who are dedicated to improving outcomes for foster children. IFCO has also broadened the lens of understanding by having a collective space where foster parents, professionals, community members and youth can come together and exchange their understanding and ideas to create change.

4. Besides being an amazing board member, what are other ways you work with the foster care in your country?
• Currently, I am working with the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition in the province of British Columbia to help improve the outcomes for youth aging out of the foster care system. This project started about two years ago, when the community came together and identified top priorities for youth aging out of care. We realized that we can’t move forward without getting young people involved, so this year I’ve been working with a talented group of young people to identify top priorities from their perspective.

These young people hosted a retreat and invited other young people from their community to come. Together they identified a top priorities list. The youth group then came up with working groups and larger short-term and long-term goals. On March 13, 2018, those top priorities were presented to a group of 50 community members who have now joined working groups as a result. Together, as a community of service providers, community members, and young people, we are making those priorities reality. It’s really exciting work.

To see a copy of the priorities click on this link.

5. Could you tell about your latest activities as a Board Member?
• In addition to my secretary role, I am also the lead on the Marketing and Communications committee. One of the top priorities of this committee is to revamp the website and look at how we market IFCO. I would love the support of our members and the broader community to help make this a reality! If you’re interested in working with me, please contact me at sec@ifco.info

6. Where do you see IFCO in 5-10 years?
• I believe that IFCO has the capability to have true global representation. We have an incredibly knowledgeable community that can support the development of foster care systems with what has worked and not worked in our countries. I haven’t seen a perfect foster care model yet that has been implemented anywhere, but I know that there is a huge international community that wants this and together we can achieve it.

7. What motivates you?
• The ability to give back. I was l fortunate enough to have amazing people around me as a young person who saw my potential and provided me opportunities to succeed. I have dedicated my career to doing the same.

Watch a video where I describe this impact: https://vimeo.com/channels/portraitsofconnection/165202335

8. Any programs or policies in your country that you would like to share with the IFCO community?
• One program we have in the province of British Columbia is called the Agreements with Young Adults program. This program will help cover living expenses for youth who have aged out of care (Care Leavers) while they are attending a program that will help them become successful in adulthood. This includes: finishing high school, attending college or university, completing a rehabilitation program, completing a Life Skills program.
Youth in this province age out on their 19th birthday and immediately become eligible for this program. They can use this program up to 27 years old or for a total of 48 months.
To learn more about this program check out: https://agedout.com/education/beyond-bursaries-aya-program