In July 2020, the Government of Ontario announced a plan to transform the child welfare system in order to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families across the province. At Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, we support and welcome these changes and stand proudly beside youth-led organizations like Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition and Youth in Care Canada who have been working tirelessly to create positive change for young people who have or will be aging out of the child welfare system and will be joining the Ministry of Child and Family Services to develop a new model supporting youth aging out of care. As these organizations collaborate with the government to make sure youth voices are elevated in the system redesign, we look forward to seeing their hard work, dedication, and expertise through lived experience come to life in the new provincial standards and quality of care.
Currently, young people are leaving the child welfare system as young as age 18, a time in which many youth may not be fully prepared to begin their independent lives. Without a permanent family to look to for support, it’s important for the government, as the caregivers for these young people, to ensure they are confident and ready for this significant life change. While some remain eligible for certain types of financial assistance and supports until age 21 or 24, a model which better addresses the individual needs of each young person will help to initiate a successful transition for all.
We know that youth who have aged out of government care face incredible barriers and lack opportunities to help them build successful futures for themselves. These young people are almost 200 times more likely to become homeless and are half as likely to graduate high school than their peers, and often end up earning an average of $326,000 less over their lifespan than the average Canadian. These statistics need to be addressed and changed, and with the support of the provincial government, we hope to see an increase in positive outcomes for these young people as soon as possible.
This redesign is large in scope and current plans support the Foundation’s core beliefs and goals of helping families stay together, supporting the safety and success of children and youth in care, and providing support for young people as they age out of the child welfare system. By co-developing their approaches alongside youth-led organizations as well as Indigenous partners, we hope to see benefits that directly address the unique needs of all young people and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing the child welfare system.
Read more about the plans for child welfare redesign and readiness indicators in Ontario in a recent article from the CBC here.