May 14 is Children and Youth in Care Day, a day by and for young people in care to honour their achievements, their strengths, and their stories.
On May 9, alongside young people with lived experience in the Ontario child welfare system, OACAS and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada visited Queen’s Park as part of the #ForgetMeNot campaign to ask the question: Are you there for kids in care? We met with several Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) and Minister Parsa to talk about better supports for youth in the areas of mental health, housing, education, and employment. Specifically, we called on the Ontario government to:
- Expand mental health services for children and youth in care through additional investments in the Roadmap to Wellness, including 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.
- 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 priority areas were informed by a series of listening roundtables held this spring, where we asked youth in and from care across Ontario what challenges they are facing and what additional supports they need to succeed. Through direct meetings with MPPs, we urged the province to recognize that children and youth in care have unique needs and therefore require specifically tailored policy, programs, and investments.
OACAS and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada also hosted a reception at Queen’s Park to bring together MPPs, community partners, child welfare agencies, and young people from care to highlight the accomplishments and resilience of children and youth in care and bring renewed attention to their distinct needs. During the reception, OACAS and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada emphasized the necessity of listening to children and youth and centring their voices in the work we are doing towards the same collective goal: to improve outcomes for all children, youth, and families in Ontario.
MPPs from across government, including Hon. Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services, MPP Mike Schreiner, MPP John Fraser, and MPP Taylor, attended and reflected on the resilience of children and youth in care and the need to take action to ensure they have access to the supportive services they need to thrive. Community partners in attendance included the Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, and StepStones.
The youth with lived experience in child welfare featured in the #ForgetMeNot campaign were also there, with some providing moving, heartfelt remarks and sharing their talents with the room, reminding us that they cannot be forgotten. Van, Rose, Samuel, Kaygan, Troy, and Aidan’s stories grounded the event in what ultimately matters most—the safety, well-being, and success of children and youth in care. It is a shared responsibility that involves communities, families, intersecting systems, community stakeholders, and government working together to be there for kids in care.
Find out how you can join the #ForgetMeNot campaign at oacas.org/forgetmenot.