Lynn Factor, a social worker who works with vulnerable youth and a member of both the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario, was recently honoured by having an award named after her.
The award was originally created by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada in 2017, to recognize individuals who have made a positive impact on the lives of abused, abandoned and neglected youth.
Her husband, Sheldon Inwentash, suggested to the foundation that it be renamed in her honour and surprised Factor with a gift: The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award.
“That’s what I do, I try to stand up for kids,” Factor said.
Valerie McMurtry, the president and CEO of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada said that, “This award will recognize Canadians who have made an indelible mark on the child welfare landscape and naming it in Lynn’s honour is a fitting tribute to her leadership and dedication to Canada’s most vulnerable children and youth.”
In addition to Factor’s 35 years as a social worker, she is also the chair of the Covenant House sex trafficking committee, past chair of the board of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and chair of the scholarship committee of the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. She currently works at Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre in Toronto, where she prepares child victims and witnesses to testify in court.
“In terms of on the ground issues, I think Lynn is the first chairman that really understood the depth of why they were raising the money and the impact it would have on the kids,” Inwentash said.
In Canada, over 235,000 young people live in abusive situations and over 67,000 live in foster care, according to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. The foundation helps youth in the child welfare system go from “surviving to thriving.”
“At one point in my career, I was helping a lot of children that were victims of sexual abuse and it was at that time that I realized that as awful as it is … I could also do something about it,” Factor said.
In 2007, Factor and Inwentash donated $15 million to the University of Toronto’s faculty of social work, the largest gift ever made to a university social work department in North America. Five endowed chairs and 50 graduate student scholarships were established with their donation.
Since Factor’s professional life is dedicated to social work and her husband is a University of Toronto alumni, they felt the donation was fitting. Factor attended Ryerson University and then York University for her master’s degree in social work.
Historically, there has not been a lot of recognition or awareness of social work and vulnerable youth, according to Factor. She hopes the award will help change that by recognizing the importance of people who stand up for kids.
The recipient will receive $50,000 and the five-shortlist nominees will receive $5,000 each, which will go towards the Canadian social service agencies of their choice.
The national award winner will be announced at the Stand Up for Kids Awards Night in Toronto in September.