TORONTO, MAY 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Until The Last Child (UTLC), is focused on a 150-year-old dilemma. Approximately 30,000 children are in some kind of temporary government care across Canada, even though there are more than enough families willing to give them healthy, loving permanent homes. UTLC plans to bridge that gap by working alongside Canada's child welfare agencies to fund innovation and best practices.
"Many of Canada's child welfare agencies already have the creativity and best practice models they need, but they lack the funding and resources to implement them," said UTLC founder, Faith Goodman. "Until the Last Child will work alongside child welfare agencies providing the funding and other necessary resources to address the systemic challenges that have historically produced low rates of permanency."
Goodman notes that sometimes as few as five percent of the children in government care find a home annually. "We'd like to help Child Welfare Agencies make that 100 percent," she says. "Finding a permanent, loving and safe home that is just right for them, at the earliest opportunity, gives these youth the best chance of success. This should bring an end the spiral of social, economic and emotional challenges this continuing issue fuels." Public attitudes need to change as well says Goodman. A recent Ipsos Reid survey found that eight percent of Canadians ranked "kids in foster care" as their most important charitable cause.
UTLC has already engaged in a number of pilot projects, including one with Family and Children's Services Guelph Wellington County (FCSGW), and has plans for more across the country.
"Our collaboration with UTLC has really made a difference and, for example, has given us extra capacity to research a child's extended family more thoroughly when they first come into care," said Daniel Moore, FCSGW Executive Director. "It also helped us analyse and improve our business processes so we can meet our service goals more quickly and efficiently. All of this means more kids in permanent homes."
UTLC's pilot project in Guelph has allowed FCSGW to devote more social work resources to an innovative "family finding" process that searches for support within the extended family network. Moore said the extra resources for family finding and the analysis of its business processes have already delivered improvements and better results in Guelph.
The Chairman of UTLC's Board has witnessed this first hand. "I have been a Judge for 34 years and I am brutally aware of the consequences for young adults who graduate from Children's Aid care without a connection to a permanent family," said The Honourable Kenneth Pedlar, Justice Superior Court of Ontario – Family Court.
The Conference Board of Canada recently issued a study that shows a cost to Canada at $7.5 billion over 10 years, as a result of children who "age out" of care at age 18 and find themselves completely on their own, without a connection to a permanent family.
Research also shows that youth aging out of government care are far more likely to experience homelessness, incarceration, early teenage pregnancy and underemployment. In addition, this population has a high incidence of substance abuse and mental health issues and almost a third will abuse or neglect their own children – repeating the cycle of government care for the next generation.
"This issue does not need to exist – it is one that Canadians actually have the power to solve," said Ms. Goodman." We are calling on Corporate Canada to step up to the plate first and support this agenda. With concerted effort, we are confident Canadian families will open their hearts and their homes – until the last child is home."
UTLC is supported by corporate and individual donors, a premier panel of business experts, and some of North America's most respected experts in child welfare.
UTLC launched the website – www.untilthelastchild.com – today as a resource to raise awareness of the issue and to share research and progress toward resolving this major but solvable problem. For more information about Until The Last Child visit www.untilthelastchild.com
SOURCE: Until The Last Child (UTLC)
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