Overwhelming majority of Canadians believe youth leaving foster care at age 18 need more support

Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada poll shows path to independence for young people in Canada vastly different than for youth leaving care

(Toronto, ON – November 15, 2022) – Most Canadians (88%) believe that youth leaving government care at the age of 18 need more support than they currently receive, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

Earlier this year, British Columbia and Alberta announced they will establish programs for youth leaving care that provide longer transition times and more support as they progress into their mid-20s. But there is still work that needs to be done in other parts of the country to provide wraparound support for youth to ensure all young people in Canada have an equal shot at a bright future.

Learn more in our Focus on Youth snapshot

“These days, many do not move out of their parent’s home until well into their 30s. Imagine not having the support of a permanent and safe family and needing to secure affordable and safe rental housing, purchase meals, pay for and complete post-secondary education or training, and apply and interview for jobs, on your own at age 18,” says Cheyanne Ratnam, co-founder and CEO of an organization that advances the rights of children and former youth in care. Cheyanne, who is a first voice advocate, consultant and speaker added, “As someone who has experienced the uncertainties of this transition first-hand, more needs to be done to provide young people across the country with the wraparound supports they need – we don’t deserve for the pain and instability of our childhoods to follow us throughout our lives.”

The poll asked Canadians to reflect on their own personal experiences and shows that the support system available for helping young people in Canada achieve independence is vastly different than what currently exists for youth transitioning out of the child welfare system:

  • Only one in three Canadians believe that an 18-year-old has the necessary resources to support themselves independently – yet for youth starting the transition from care at age 18, they are on their own to find somewhere to live, to look for a job, and to figure out how to pay for daily living expenses.
  • Half of Canadians with an eldest child between the ages of 18 to 29 still have them living at home – in contrast, youth start transitioning out of government care at age 18 and do not have a family support system to help them with housing. In fact, youth transitioning out of care are nearly 200 times more likely to experience homelessness than their peers.
  • Seven in 10 Canadians agree there is an expectation that children will be supported by their parents beyond 18 years of age – youth transitioning out of care don’t have this option as once they turn 18 (or 19 in some provinces), they are no longer eligible for the type of support their received while living in foster care.

“While their peers continue to have the financial and emotional support of a loving family throughout their twenties, young people from care face a very different reality and too often transition to a life of poverty, underemployment, and homelessness,” says Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, the country’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families involved in the child welfare system. “Youth from care are too often set up for failure rather than success and deserve the same supports as their peers.”

Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, together with their community of donors is committed to empowering youth with the resources they need to establish meaningful, fulfilling lives after care. The Foundation is focused on three key areas for supporting youth transitioning from care: mental health and improving educational and employment outcomes. Thanks to the generosity of donors, last year the Foundation helped 4,449 youth access the resources they need to establish meaningful, fulfilling lives after care.

Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is asking Canadians to show their support for youth transitioning from care:

  • Become an Ally – sign up to be an ally to youth at cafdn.org/focusonyouth where you can get involved and keep up to date on issues affecting youth leaving care
  • Donate – help youth receive the support they need to successfully navigate independence and create a bright future for themselves at cafdn.org
  • Advocate – contact your elected official to make them aware of the challenges facing youth leaving care and request more support for youth.

About this study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted online between June 3 to 7, 2022. A sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.

About Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada

Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is our country’s leading charity dedicated to standing up for children and families involved in the child welfare system and standing alongside youth with lived experience. We raise and grant funds and deliver a wide range of high-impact programs and services in partnership with 80 child- and youth-serving agencies across the country. Last year, we supported over 19,568 children, youth and families. Find out more at cafdn.org

For more information:

Lisa Lipkin

Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada

[email protected]; 416-988-4189