Broaden subsidy programs to give all children and youth a chance settle in a permanent family

What does this mean?

The current subsidy program offers monthly allowances for parents who adopt or take legal custody of Crown wards 10-17 years of age, and/or sibling groups. While this aids in finding homes for children who are more difficult to place, there are gaps. The targeted subsidies are only available until the adopted child turns 18, meaning that they, or the adoptive parents, will lose supports they would otherwise have had until the youth turned 21 or 25 if the youth stayed in foster care.1

Youth who are developmentally or physically challenged lose the supports that Children’s Aid can provide, and more importantly the families lose access to Children’s Aid advocacy to help them access services provided by other specialized programs.

Another gap exists for some of the kin families that step in to help their young relatives. There are two kin options – one that is highly structured and is funded, and the other is less formal and the family receives little, if any ongoing financial help.

Broadening subsidies means a new way in supporting children and youth who are cared for through Children’s Aid by ensuring all have access to resources, such as those that would be provided in foster care. This allows families to make lifelong commitments to parent youth who would otherwise be in foster or group care. This applies to adoption, legal custody or guardianship, kin family arrangements and Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) customary care.

Why is this a priority?

All children and youth who are cared for through Children’s Aid Societies should have the best chance to have a permanent family. A standard provincial subsidy program, which supports all children and youth to the age of 21, would provide the best opportunity for permanent families.

What steps have been taken?

As noted above, the government introduced a new targeted adoption subsidy program for youth aged 10–17, and for sibling groups. This has resulted in some progress in the proportion of children being placed in permanent homes.

Children’s Aid Societies have made progress in ensuring that more children who do come into care find homes in family settings rather than group or institutional settings. For those children who are in permanent care (Crown wards), the emphasis has been on helping them to find permanent families. The number of children who come into care, as well as those who have become Crown wards, has steadily declined over the past five years. The monthly average number of children in care has declined from 17,674 in 2009-2010 to 15,895 in 2013-20142 and similarly the trend for Crown wards has also declined – from 9,126 to 6,9803 in the same five year period.

What needs to be done?

While Children’s Aid Societies continue to focus on finding homes and families for children in care, the subsidy programs need to be extended to adoption or other permanent relationships for older children and children with special needs. This would include not only adoption and legal custody/guardianship but also kin or family arrangements and customary care arrangements for Aboriginal, FNMI children.

Recommendations

  • Review the subsidy programs to ensure they enable families to make the lifelong commitment to adopt older children and sibling groups, as well as younger children with exceptional needs.
  • Provide supports and subsidies for adopted youth for the same duration as youth who would have been in foster care – up to 21 or 25.
  • Apply subsidies to all forms of lifelong family relationships – kin, legal custody, adoption and customary care.
  1. Numerous programs are now available for non-adopted youth 18 – 21, including financial and counselling support, access to post-secondary supports, health and dental program – some of which are available to the age of 25
  2. Ministry Quarterly reports submitted to OACAS by member agencies as of September 30, 2014
  3. Ministry Quarterly reports submitted to OACAS by member agencies as of September 30, 2014
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