TORONTO, May 14, 2016 /CNW/ - On the third annual Children and Youth in Care Day, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is encouraging all Ontarians to reflect on and reaffirm our collective commitment to improving the outcomes for all young people in care.
On any given day in Ontario, there are over 20,000 children in the province's care systems, which include children in foster care, group homes and other residential homes. Of them, 7,000 are permanent Crown Wards of Ontario through its children's aid societies.
"When a children's aid society, mandated through their legislation, brings a child into care on our behalf, we are telling that child, 'You are safe now. We will care for you and support you. We will love you.' This is what a child will expect from our actions," said Irwin Elman. "As a province, we have made a covenant with these children and we must live up to this promise."
May 14 was designated as Children and Youth in Care Day in an effort to help raise awareness, reduce stigma and recognize all children and youth in care. The creation of the day was one of six key recommendations made in My REAL Life Book – a report published by the Office – which resulted from the historic Youth Leaving Care Hearings that called for fundamental change to the existing child welfare system. May 14 marks the exact day that My REAL Life Book was released. This year, young people from across the province will gather as part of "The Bus Ride Home" to Queen's Park – the metaphoric home they all share – to discuss improvements made to the lives of children and youth in care since those hearings, and offer solutions on actions that still need to be taken by government and service providers.
Despite the decreasing overall number of young people in the province's care systems, the gap between outcomes for youth in care and those not in care must be reduced, according to Elman.
Many young people struggle to transition out of the care system without the adequate supports in place. For example:
- 44 per cent of Crown Wards drop out of high school, compared to a 81 per cent graduation rate for the general population;
- An estimated 43 per cent of homeless youth have previous child welfare involvement;
- An estimated 82 per cent of children in care have diagnosed special needs
- Of all children in care under the age of 18, just over 16 per cent fall into the placement category of "living independently." In contrast to these 16 and 17 year olds, Canadian youth on average begin to live on their own in their mid-20s.
"Children and Youth in Care Day is a day to celebrate these young people who, day in and day out, demonstrate a remarkable resilience and strength. I urge all Ontarians today to think of children in care and learn more about how they are faring under our watch. Let that be the first step this year that will lead to a better life for our children for the next Children and Youth in Care Day," said Elman.
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools).
The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement. For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Akihiko Tse, Communications, Media Relations Coordinator, (416)-325-5994, firstname.lastname@example.org, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth