“Every single person I have encountered in the system has had great potential to succeed. It is social barriers that are to blame for many of the problems they face.”
– Anonymous Youth
OACAS and the Ontario child welfare sector support the current government’s commitment to strengthen supports for youth and to implement a readiness strategy for youth transitioning out of care. The poor outcomes of youth from child welfare are well documented. They include higher rates of academic under-achievement, unemployment, homelessness, criminal justice involvement, vulnerability to human trafficking, early parenthood, and reliance on social assistance. These pre-existing risks and challenges for youth in and from care have been compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Investments in their safety and well-being are more necessary than ever to ensure they do not fall further behind their peers. Their physical and mental health, developmental maturity, educational success, and employment opportunities require unique consideration in a comprehensive government readiness plan.
Youth from the child welfare system have consistently articulated their concerns and named their needs for a successful transition from the child welfare system. They include:
- Investments in well-being that address the social determinants of health: Free/affordable housing, access to public transit, health and dental benefits, employment assistance (such as job finding help, career counselling, and livable wages), cultural services and supports, and childcare for dependent children. This also includes consideration for the needs of diverse populations and identities, including youth who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system.
- Better preparation for adulthood and independence: Financial literacy, household management skills, access to mentors, and financial supports
- Mental health supports and programming: Accessible and free therapy, mental health resources, and rehabilitation supports and services
And all of this needs to be done in collaboration with first voice advocates from across the province, with diverse perspectives and experiences to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive, and equitable policy and implementation approach.
OACAS urges all parties to prioritize the full scope of supports and services young people from the child welfare system need to thrive.
To learn more about the child welfare sector’s other election priorities, see: