May 9, 2023
Toronto, ON — May 14 is Children and Youth in Care Day—a day to acknowledge the contributions that current and former youth in the care of the Ontario child welfare system make to the province, as well as their strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
This year, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people with lived experience in the Ontario child welfare system are visiting Queen’s Park in recognition of Children and Youth in Care Day and asking MPPs the question Are you there for kids in care? OACAS and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada are supporting young people in care by calling on the government of Ontario to:
- Expand mental health services for children and youth in care through additional investments in the Roadmap to Wellness. This additional funding should be provided to organizations focused on child and youth mental health to help reduce wait times and improve access to specialized, trauma-informed services and supports. A portion of this funding should be earmarked for children and youth with severe or complex mental health needs.
- Ensure young people in care have access to safe, appropriate, and secure housing through additional investments in the Homelessness Prevention Program. Investments should support housing models, programs, and initiatives specifically designed to support youth by offering a holistic range of wraparound supports and services focused on well-being, continued life-skills development, employment and education, community integration, and social inclusion.
- Help young people in care successfully enter and thrive in the labour market by making targeted investments focused on learning recovery and skills development. These targeted investments should be tailored to the needs of youth facing unique barriers to education and employment, such as early leavers from high school, single-parent youth, youth living in low-income households, youth experiencing homelessness or precarious housing, and youth in or from care.
The disparity in outcomes for young people from the child welfare system compared to their peers is well documented. It includes high rates of leaving high school or post-secondary early, under- or unemployment, mental health challenges and substance misuse, and precarious housing. It is also important to note that Indigenous and Black youth continue to be overrepresented in the child welfare system and that the experiences and outcomes of 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth involved in the child welfare system need to improve. This is the result of the historical and continual impacts of systems of power, privilege, and oppression—including colonialism and racism—that drive the oversurveillance of communities while also creating barriers to safe and culturally responsive supportive services across systems like mental health, housing, and education.
Children and youth in care cannot be forgotten. They must be prioritized by the Ontario government as a group with unique lived experiences and distinct needs. It is critical that the province develop policy and programming and make investments that are tailored to their specific needs, including identity and culture. This will ultimately support and further the work being done to address overrepresentation in child welfare and progress being made towards equitable outcomes.
“There are many ways every day Ontarians can impact the life of a child or youth in the child welfare system,” said Van Loc, one of the individuals featured in the #ForgetMeNot campaign and the artist behind the campaign materials. “My fencing coach Bryan changed my life. I hope his story can inspire others to do more to help the young people around them.”
“It’s not enough to simply celebrate children and youth in care on May 14. We also have to work towards improved outcomes for all children, youth, families, and communities,” said Nicole Bonnie, CEO of OACAS. “We are doing that by engaging government and key partners in conversations about practical, tangible polices, programming, and investments that can help children and youth in care thrive. We are also asking community members to think about how they are there for kids in care. We want them to think critically about what more they could do to support the vulnerable children and youth in their communities.”
“Providing housing, mental health support, and education and training opportunities for youth transitioning out of the child welfare system — especially those who identify as Black, Indigenous and biracial — is not only a moral imperative but a practical investment in their future success and the wellbeing of our communities,” said Valerie McMurtry, President & CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “We applaud the government for its steps with programs like Ready, Set, Go, but as a Foundation, we know more can be done. We must continue prioritizing the needs of youth transitioning out of care and provide them with the necessary resources to build resilience and thrive.”
Learn more about the #ForgetMeNot campaign and how you can get involved, at oacas.org/forgetmenot.
About Children and Youth in Care Day:
Children and Youth in Care Day was created because of the tireless efforts of young people in and from care and the stories and experiences they shared through the My Real Life Book report. The day was proclaimed provincially in the Children and Youth in Care Day Act, 2014. It serves as an important reminder that children and youth in care face many unique challenges. They require allies, advocacy, and collaboration to help them reach their full potential. They need to know that they belong to, and have the support of, their community.
About the 2023 #ForgetMeNot Campaign:
OACAS is continuing the #ForgetMeNot campaign by asking all Ontarians the question: Are you there for kids in care? This is a way to remind community, government, and service providers that these young people continue to need critical supports. They cannot be forgotten. This year’s campaign emphasizes stories of young people with experience in the child welfare system and the influential people in their lives who contributed to their well-being. We want to encourage Ontarians to get involved in supporting their success. We are proud to partner with the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada on the 2023 #ForgetMeNot campaign.
For media inquiries, contact:
Director, Communications and Government and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
Senior Manager, Communications
Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada
 Each year, nearly 12,000 children and youth in care are served by non-Indigenous child welfare agencies in Ontario. These young people are not able to live with their primary caregivers because of conditions that make it unsafe to do so. Instead, they live with extended family, friends, or in foster or group homes.