Melanie completed her Master in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and her Bachelor in Applied Arts in Criminal Justice at St Thomas University. Prior to pursuing her graduate work, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP) at UNB alongside Dr. Doug Willms, and most recently as a Project Officer for the Government of New Brunswick’s Integrated Service Delivery for Children and Youth project until July 2014. Melanie has also been involved in various youth engagement initiatives during her time in New Brunswick, such as the N.B. Youth in Care Network (NBYICN), and is very passionate about providing youth currently and formerly in care with opportunities to voice their opinions, influence government policies and approaches to service delivery. She was a presenter at the very first Youth in Care Hearings at the N.B. legislature in November 2012 and has been working closely with the Department of Social Development on child protection services policy reform efforts via the network.
Melanie is currently a PhD candidate and Sessional Instructor at McGill University’s School of Social Work, and a member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families. She is also a recipient of SSHRC and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral scholarships. In 2015, Melanie co-founded a peer support group, the Montreal Youth in Care Alumni Student Association (MYCASA), and served as a Board of Directors member of the Quebec youth in care network (C.A.R.E Jeunesse) until August 2016. She is also involved as a youth advisor for the SSHRC-funded Study of Youth Leaving Care in Quebec and France (SYLC). Melanie 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.
Stemming from her unique experience as a youth in care, Melanie’s main research interests are rooted in issues that affect youth in and from care. For her doctoral research, Melanie led and facilitated a collaborative photovoice project in Fall 2018 with eight former youth in care in the Greater Vancouver area on the importance of supportive long-term relationships for youth ‘aging out’ of care. The project aimed to take a closer look at the types and dimensions of supportive relationships in the lives of young people from care, and how those relationships can be developed and supported over time. 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.