TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2018 /CNW/ - The announced repeal of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, the closure to the Ontario Child Advocate's (OCA) office, and the end of this critical legislative officer position is of grave concern to the vulnerable children and youth in our province. The Ontario Child Advocate, Irwin Elman and his team, lead numerous initiatives advocating and investigating on behalf of children and youth, guided by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. The OCA gives voice to children and youth, including First Nations children and those with special needs, by building understanding and communication between children and their families and service providers.
Responsibilities of the OCA include educating children, youth and their caregivers regarding the rights of children and youth; conducting investigations about matters concerning a child or group of children under the care of a Children's Aid Society (CAS) or a residential licensee where the CAS is the placing agency; facilitating youth groups that address systemic issues including oppression, poverty, mental illness, race, ability, abuse, neglect, trauma, and even death; and making recommendations that could protect children and youth in Child Welfare, Youth Justice, and Residential Treatment across our province. Without the OCA, an integral part of their already limited support system, children and youth will be at greater risk.
The importance of having a watch dog that is separate from government, as is the OCA, cannot be overlooked. It is instrumental in ensuring all agencies and organizations working with children and youth, including the government, are accountable to putting children and youth's needs and rights first. The work of the OCA also pushes us all to do better on an individual, institutional and systemic level. The OCA office has produced numerous and significant reports including the recent 'Report of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements' where 12 deaths between January 1, 2014 and July 31, 2017 in Ontario were subject to investigation.
It is the opinion of the OACYC that this loss will put more vulnerable children at risk at a time when many of our children are in need of more support and safeguards, not less. The loss of the OCA will be a significant one in our province. As a society, we must advocate now for the advocates. It is our responsibility to stand up for and protect the rights of all children and their families.
About the OACYC
The Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care (OACYC) represents Child and Youth Care Practitioners across Ontario. Our members are educated professionals, committed to a code of ethics and providing quality Child and Youth Care services to young people and their families. For more info: https://www.oacyc.org/
The OACYC calls on the Ontario Government to reverse this decision, put the protection of vulnerable children foremost in their decision making, and repeal the act to close the Ontario Child Advocate.
SOURCE Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care
For further information: Media Contact: Mardi Ennis-Gregory, OACYC President, Tel: 416-621-4340, Email: [email protected]