Veteran child psychiatrist, Dr. Jim Wilkes, was recognized today for his significant contribution to protecting children and youth from abuse and neglect. The sixth annual Stand Up for Kids Award, sponsored by the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto), Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS), Jewish Family and Child Service, and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, was presented to Dr. Wilkes today by the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services, as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The award was presented today at Queen’s Park in Committee, Room 230 at 12:30 p.m.
A medical practitioner and Child Psychiatrist for 52 and 45 years respectively, Dr. Wilkes has helped thousands of Toronto children overcome the trauma of abuse and neglect, provided case advice to Children’s Aid Society workers for more than three decades and has been a leading advocate for the safety and well-being of children through improvements to Child Welfare policy and legislation.
“I congratulate Dr. Wilkes for his perseverance, dedication and selflessness in helping those whose voices are not always heard,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services. “Child Abuse Prevention Month is an important time to recognize the commitment and
excellent work of individuals and organizations, and reminds us that we all have a responsibility to protect our children.”
As an advisor to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS) and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto for the past 30 years, Dr. Wilkes has been a mentor to workers in their case practice. His weekly CCAS service consultations still continue today.
“Dr. Wilkes’ passion for the rights of children has profoundly influenced the quality of our social work practice,” says Mary McConville, Executive Director, Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. “Through his “Truth or Consequence” training sessions, Dr. Wilkes has inspired us to help children understand their past history and gain greater strength in coping with their struggles. I recall the impact he had on our workers and his compassion in explaining to five children in care, that their mother was dying, and how he also helped the foster parents support the children through this tragedy,” adds Ms. McConville.
David Rivard, Executive Director, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto agrees that Dr. Wilkes has been a driving force for the rights and well being of children in our community and is well deserving of the award. “There are few other individuals who have had such a profound influence on how we work with families and plan for children, including being one of the major contributors to how child access visits happen,” he adds. “Child access has increasingly been viewed as a valuable mechanism to assist parents in improving their skills in interacting with their children and in helping us to gauge their progress.”
Dr. Wilkes has been a member of the Sparrow Lake Alliance, an organization that brings together individuals from all sectors and disciplines to inspire, support, teach and learn from each other in order to promote a better life for children. His leadership in the Sparrow Lake Alliances’ “Children In Limbo Task Force” focused on the need to put the child’s needs first and has led to many positive changes in the Child Welfare System, public policy and legislation.
Sponsored by Toronto’s Children’s Aid Societies, the Stand Up for Kids Award is part of the province’s October Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Use Your Voice (UYV) awareness campaigns. The UYV campaign features newspaper, magazine, outdoor, digital, radio and TTC ads, along with ads placed in selected healthcare waiting rooms, a PSA and an online resource, www.useyourvoice.ca. The campaign website provides information about the signs and indicators of physical, sexual and emotional abuse including neglect, and how to contact a local Children’s Aid Society.
Over the past year, Toronto Children’s Aid Societies have investigated more than 10,000 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, and provided care for more than 40,000 area children.