Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth says '90 Deaths' among Children known to Child Protection Services Unacceptable in Ontario



    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The Office of the Advocate for Children and
Youth released its 2008 Annual Report today to the Legislative Assembly of
Ontario.
    "We have our work cut out for us," says Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate
who was appointed to head the Office in July 2008. The Office is a separate
and independent entity, with a staff complement of 19, reporting to the
Legislature of Ontario.
    "Our job is to serve the more than 26,000 children and youth known to the
child protection services, youth justice and children's mental health
facilities in Ontario," says Elman. "They are there through no fault of their
own. They come into contact with our systems because they are in peril. We
will assist them to speak for themselves, and will advocate on their behalf."
    During 2007, the last year for which there are full statistics, 90
children and youth known to the child protection services in Ontario died.
According to the 2008 Coroner's report, most of these deaths were preventable.
"We need to recognize that such deaths occur each year and we need to say as a
society that we cannot accept this," said Elman.
    "Starting with a process with the intention of blaming some individuals
is not helpful," Elman added. "It is important to understand the lives of the
children who died. In so doing we can harness the good will that exists among
people and organizations that care for children and youth. That is the way
systems can be changed to reduce the number of deaths."
    The 2008 Annual report is available on the website
www.provincialadvocate.on.ca

    
    Priorities set out in the 2008 Annual Report include:
    -   strengthening the advocacy role of the organization;
    -   finding ways to better the lives of children and youth in state care
        and strategies to reduce the number of deaths among them;
    -   improving methods of responding to needs in Northern and Northwestern
        Ontario;
    -   strengthening youth partnerships and helping adult decision-makers
        learn that respecting the voice of youth creates safety;
    -   improving the access of the Advocate's office to needed information.
    





For further information:

For further information: To interview Irwin Elman or for further
information, please contact: Ann-Marie Scott, (tel) (416) 325-5676 or (416)
325-5669 or email ann-marie.scott@provincialadvocate.on.ca


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