Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth welcomes ministry's plans to create a child-centered child welfare system

TORONTO, Dec. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau tabled proposed legislation to modernize the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) which, among other things, places young people at the centre of all decision-making that affects them. The bill also introduces greater oversight over the province's children's aid societies; extends the age of protection from 16 to 18; and requires all service providers to inform children and youth about the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (the Advocate's Office).

"Five years ago, hundreds of young people in and from care held landmark hearings at the Legislature of Ontario, and courageously led a conversation about the fundamental change that needed to take place in our child protection and child welfare system," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "Their courage, wisdom and strength to continually bring their message forward opened the currently closed system. Because of young people, Ontario is now at a place where change is possible."

Last week, the Advocate's Office made a submission to the ministry with its proposed changes to the CFSA, including the implementation of "Katelynn's Principle." Named after seven-year-old Katelynn Sampson, who was killed at the hands of her legal guardians in 2008, this principle would place the views and voices of children and youth at the centre of all legislation, policy and services provided to them. The Advocate's Office recommended "Katelynn's Principle" at the inquest examining her death.

"I am pleased that the government has committed to a child-centred approach under the new Act.  I am heartened by the expressed intent of the new legislation," said Elman. "Implementation of these changes will be vital, including efforts to shift the culture of the system. My office is committed to doing our part and supporting youth at this critical stage in our province's history to use their voice to ensure there are no gaps between the promises of the new legislation and their lived experience.

"In the end, the proposed changes will only be as useful as they positively impact the lives of children and youth of the province. If the changes move us to become a province where all children are protected; where all young people have what they need, when they need it in order to thrive; and where all families – however they are constituted – are supported so they can do right by their children, then this will be a great day for all children and youth in Ontario," 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, akihiko.tse@provincialadvocate.on.ca, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth


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