Task to build new residential care system must have an immediate impact on young people, says Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

TORONTO, July 19, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (the Ministry) released its Blueprint to reform residential care services in Ontario at a time of heightened scrutiny of the province's ability to adequately care for young people living in residential settings in the child welfare, youth justice and mental health sectors.

While the Blueprint puts forward a short- and long-term, multi-year vision to build a new system, this process, says Irwin Elman, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, must take a child-centred approach to improve the lived experiences of children and youth immediately and incrementally in real-time.

"Children and youth currently receiving services or those who will come into contact with services while the government conducts its work cannot wait years before conditions in their lives improve," said Elman, adding that the current state of crisis in residential care – including the recent spate of deaths involving young people across the province – highlights the urgent need in which the government must ensure the protection, safety and wellbeing of young people.

In doing its work, Elman has urged the government to continue listening and working with young people who have lived experience in residential care settings – as they did in informing the Blueprint – to address the issues and concerns they have raised over many years. Recently, these have been documented in the Office's Searching for Home: Reimagining Residential Care and Serious Occurrences Report, as well as the government-commissioned Because Young People Matter: Report of the Residential Services Review Panel.

"It is now accepted that it is a matter of good fortune if a young person receives the care and support they need in a residential care setting that they are placed in, and not a matter of good planning," said Elman. "Children and youth in the care of the province deserve so much more."

The Advocate's Office will work with young people and stakeholders to monitor and evaluate the progress of the Blueprint's stated objectives, while partnering with young people to ensure those changes are reflected in their everyday lives.

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 United Nations 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 https://www.youtube.com/user/ProvincialAdvocate/featured, 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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