Province engaging youth with lived experience for input on new framework
TORONTO — The Ontario government is engaging youth with lived experience to help develop a new framework that would see youth transition out of the care of children’s aid societies when they feel ready and better prepared. Their feedback will help establish readiness indicators, such as stable housing or education, to ensure young people are set up for success once they leave care, a key pillar of the province’s plan to modernize the child welfare system.
“We know many young people leaving care are struggling and we want to change that,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Our goal is to ensure youth feel confident and have the tools to thrive as independent adults. Listening and working with youth and child welfare advocates is critical as we design a new framework to better support them as they transition from care to adulthood.”
The Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition and Youth in Care Canada will co-lead youth consultations alongside the ministry, with mentoring and support from the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. The engagement sessions will begin later this spring and will inform the development of the readiness indicators. The organizations will hear from youth with lived experience, service providers, advocates, partners and stakeholders on how best to support young people preparing to transition from care.
While work is underway to design the new framework, the province has extended the moratorium on youth aging out of their care arrangements with children’s aid societies to September 30, 2022. This moratorium will ensure youth in the child welfare system who pass the cut-off age during the COVID 19 pandemic will continue to receive supports and services.
“Our government is redesigning Ontario’s child welfare system to provide more opportunities for children and youth,” added Dunlop. “This new framework will promote positive outcomes and allow our young people leaving care to be set up for success and thrive as independent adults. These young people are capable and deserve the chance to flourish at every stage of their life.”
“Our partnership between government and non-profit organizations founded and led by first voice advocates, and our work together, is expected to transform the ‘aging out’ experience,” said Cheyanne Ratnam, founder, president and CEO of the Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition (OCAC). “It will result in better outcomes, across lifespans, for Ontario’s children and young people in and from the child welfare system.”
“The partnership between Youth in Care Canada, the Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition, and the government represents the mutual commitment of our organizations to the betterment of outcomes for young people in and leaving care,” said Conner Lowes, President of Youth in Care Canada (YICC). “We as an organization are so proud to be taking this step to help reform the child welfare system in such a fundamental way, thereby providing young people with the crucial support they need to succeed.”
“We’ve heard first-hand from so many young people who have ‘aged out’ of the current system that this milestone has been traumatizing, leaving them feeling ill-equipped, confused and abandoned,” said Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “We are proud to stand alongside first voice advocates as they partner with government on this important work and are optimistic that this project will create new ways to better address the individual needs of young people, supporting them to build successful futures for themselves.”
- More than 11,700 children and youth are in the care of children’s aid societies in Ontario. This includes children and youth in kinship care, foster care and group care placements.
- In March 2020, Ontario announced a moratorium so no young person would age out of the supports and services they receive from children’s aid societies. Youth in care turning 18 continue to receive supports provided prior to their 18th birthday and youth turning 21 with a Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) Agreement continue to receive those supports.
- Children and youth leaving the care of the child welfare system are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes, such as homelessness, mental health concerns, unemployment, lack of education and achievement and involvement in the justice system
SOURCE Province of Ontario