Saskatchewan

Sask. podcast amplifies voices of youth in care during pandemic

The podcast was produced and hosted by a university student and interviews different youth in care.

Podcast produced, hosted by a university student, interviews youth in care

Mercedes Redman is the producer and host of the Youth Voices Today podcast. (Submitted by Mercedes Redman)

Haley is a teenager living in a group home. The girls are all isolating together and it's been a challenge at times, Haley told a new Regina podcast.

"They're like sisters to me but it is hard to be isolated in a house together," Haley said. 

If the girls fight, or one leaves without a staff member, they can be discharged to a shelter and potentially not allowed back in. 

Haley's story is one of several being told on Youth Voices Today, a new podcast capturing how COVID-19 is affecting youth in care. It was created in partnership with the Ministry of Social Services and First Nations University of Canada. 

Mercedes Redman, a student at the First Nation University of Canada, produces and hosts the podcast. Redman has produced three episodes so far and hopes to create six total. 

"COVID-19 is affecting everybody," Redman said. "Not just the essential workers or parents or little kids. Like there's so many challenges and difficulties that have come with COVID-19."

It was important for youth in the child welfare system to have this opportunity to speak and kind of create their own narrative.- Mercedes Redman

Redman started working on the project after a professor, Shannon Avison, asked her to give youth a voice. Redman said she learned new things about the foster system while making the podcast. 

"I didn't know that if you left the group home then you weren't allowed back," Redman said. "For different group homes, there's a certain amount of hours you need to stay away before you can come back. Learning that was really difficult." 

As well, she learned the virtual school lessons are tough for people in the system because they need support from teachers and classmates, Redman said.

The Youth Voices Today podcast was created in partnership with the Ministry of Social Services and the First Nations University of Canada. (Youth Voices Today/Facebook)

At first, some youth were hesitant to talk, Redman said. She said it's hard to build a relationship over the phone, but it just took honesty and time.

"Letting them know that their health was so important for me," Redman said. "I think that really helped them a lot. They wanted to open up."

Redman said the youth she spoke to helped her get in touch with others as well. 

"They understood that it was important for youth in the child welfare system to have this opportunity to speak and kind of create their own narrative."

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