TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2015 /CNW/ - The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Irwin Elman welcomes the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' announcement to assist children in care to find loving, permanent families. The announcement was made today.
Elman says, "In creating this permanency strategy, the Ministry has signaled its willingness to listen to those young people who spoke courageously during the Our Voice, Our Turn youth hearings, in the My Real Lifebook and in partnering with government to create the Blueprint for Fundamental Change in Child Welfare. These young people clearly said that fundamental change would mean that they are no longer leaving care alone with no one to rely upon. They spoke longingly and poignantly for connection. Today's announcement is welcome news."
In the fall of 2011, the Provincial Advocate's Office and young people from the Our Voice Our Turn project held the first public hearings at a provincial legislature to examine the challenges facing youth when they age out of care. The "Youth Leaving Care Hearings" were a landmark moment in the history of advancing the rights of young people in Ontario. The personal stories and ideas heard at the hearings were captured in the My REAL Life Book and presented it to the Ontario Legislature. The government listened to the recommendations made by youth and partnered with them to devise the Blueprint for Fundamental Change in Child Welfare.
"Family is a term that holds a great many meanings for children in care. Our child welfare system can work harder to create 'families' for children. For some, adoption is the appropriate route to take and the strategies announced today are a good step forward. We are supportive as well of an increased commitment to customary care as a very viable route to create families for indigenous children," said Elman.
Elman was also pleased to see that the Ministry will now support youth in care staying in their foster homes, if they so choose, past the age of 18 to 21 years old. He says, "We cannot abandon children who will grow up in care. We can and must do better in helping them find permanency as well."
While today's announcement by the Ministry is a positive first step, Elman cautions, "There is a great deal of work to do to improve the lives of children in care. We know that young people are right when they say fundamental change is required. We invite the Ministry to join us and the young people we serve in saying "We're not stopping here!"
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 Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. 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.
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Phone: (416) 325-5669 or Toll-free: 1-800-263-2841