TORONTO, May 14, 2017 /CNW/ - The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is calling on all Ontarians this Children and Youth in Care Day to reflect on and recommit to our role in protecting, nurturing and supporting all young people in and from care.
"Today is a day for Ontarians to recognize the strength and resilience of young people in and from care as they overcome incredible hardships," said Irwin Elman, "including the struggles that stem from the system that is meant to care for their well-being."
On any given day in Ontario, there are over 17,000 children in the province's care systems, which include children in foster care, group homes and other residential settings. Of them, 7,000 are permanent Crown Wards of Ontario through its Children's Aid Societies.
Recent reports of the deaths of five young people, four of whom were Indigenous, living in residential settings must, Elman says, serve as a reminder to the government and to Ontarians of how much more work must be done to keep our promise to children in care.
Currently, an all-party legislative committee has completed its review of amendments to Bill 89, the Supporting Children, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017, which was tabled in December 2016 to modernize the existing Child and Family Services Act, 1990.
"While the government's new piece of legislation and blueprint for reform to improve the quality of care of residential services offer some measure of hope, there is still a great deal of work to be done in the development of regulation and policy, and implementation in order to make a real difference in the lives of children in care and their families," said Elman.
"This Children and Youth in Care Day, we must acknowledge those in and from care who, through their efforts, have brought us to this point in Ontario's history, while remembering those who are no longer with us, for the possibility of change they have created for every child who will come after them."
May 14 was designated as Children and Youth in Care Day in an effort to help raise awareness, reduce stigma and recognize the strength, resilience and achievements of 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 Advocate's Office – that resulted from the historic Youth Leaving Care Hearings, which called for fundamental change to the existing child welfare system. May 14 marks the day My REAL Life Book was released.
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (the Advocate's Office) reports directly to the Legislature of Ontario 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 and youth, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children.
The Advocate's Office can also conduct investigations and make recommendations to improve children's aid society services and services provided by residential licensees where a children's aid society is the placing agency.
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, [email protected], Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth