Mandate and Scope
The Child and Youth Advocate Act
The responsibilities and activities of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) are shaped by its legislative mandate. The Office's services can be accessed only by, or on behalf of, young people receiving "designated services": that is to say, young people already served under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (Enhancement Act) and Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act (PSECA), and youth involved with the youth criminal justice system. The Office is child- and youth-focused, and its services are rights-based. Advocacy support and legal appointment services are provided to young people who fall within the mandate.
The Office's core work also includes conducting research related to improving designated services, conducting investigations into systemic issues arising from the serious injury or death of a child or youth receiving designated services, and providing public education on the rights, interests and viewpoints of children and youth.
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an external advocacy system. Reporting directly to the Legislature provides the Child and Youth Advocate with greater independence. The OCYA provides a check and balance on behalf of young people when government intervention has been necessary to ensure their safety, security and development and when government has significant decision making responsibility and authority on their behalf.
Our work is focused on ensuring young people who come to our attention understand their rights and have every reasonable opportunity to participate in the decision making that affects them. The primary recipients of feedback from our Office are Alberta's Legislature and the Ministries of Human Services and Solicitor General/Public Security. This feedback is provided informally on a continuous basis and is formally conveyed through reports such as Service Reports, Special Reports and the Annual Report. Copies of these reports can be found on our website.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
One of the most important reference documents for our Office is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Passed by the United Nations in 1989, it is the most widely adopted instrument of its kind in history. Canada ratified the UNCRC in 1991. Because of Canada's federated structure, the Provinces were also asked to endorse the Convention. Alberta did so in 1999.