Melanie is a former youth in care who has been working to improve the lives of children and youth in and from care for more than 15 years through her academic work and community engagement. Currently, Melanie is a PhD candidate and Sessional Instructor at McGill University School of Social Work and a member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF) where she has worked on multiple local initiatives to make a difference for youth in care.
In fall of 2017, Melanie led and facilitated a collaborative doctoral project titled Relationships Matter for Youth “Aging Out” of Care, with former youth in care from Greater Vancouver, which takes a closer look at supportive relationships in their lives through the power of photography. As part of the project, Melanie mounted a successful photo exhibit, which drew the attention of government policy makers and community based organizations. In collaboration with her co-researchers, she compiled an extensive report, which was released in 2018 through the BC Representative for Children and Youth and received national attention. Her efforts have also received high-level acclaim including SSHRC and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctorial scholarships and awards. Melanie’s research aims to provide a platform for the voice of youth from care in proposing specific recommendations relevant to child welfare policies, programs and intervention strategies targeted to young people in care transitioning to adulthood.
Melanie has been involved in various youth engagement initiatives and child welfare focused organizations in her home province of New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia, and nationally. As part of the NB Youth in Care Network (NBYCN), she presented at the first N.B. Youth in Care hearings in the provincial legislature in 2012, and is working with the Department of Social Development on child protection services policy reform efforts. In 2015, Melanie co-founded a peer support group for former youth in care pursuing post-secondary education, the Montreal Youth in Care Alumni Student Association (MYCASA). She is also currently a Board Member of the International Foster Care Organization (IFCO) and past Board member of C.A.R.E Jeunesse. Prior to relocating to Montreal, Melanie was a Project Officer for the Government of N.B.’s award winning Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) project for children and youth with emotional, behavioural and mental health issues and was pivotal to its province-wide implementation.
Melanie is a frequent public speaker on the importance of relationships and fostering resilience for youth in and from care, and has organized multiple panels with other youth in care alumni in various academic and community settings across the country. She continuously aspires to become a university professor, a research consultant, an author, a motivational speaker, and a mentor to and advocate for youth involved in the child welfare system.