TORONTO — Ontario wants every child and young person to be supported to succeed, and to thrive. The child welfare system is facing challenges – not all children, youth and families are getting the quality of support they deserve, and some children are struggling once they leave care.
Today, Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced the launch of an engagement with youth, families, caregivers, frontline workers and child welfare sector leaders to strengthen the child welfare system for children and youth.
“If we are going to make a difference for children and youth, we must listen to them and then build programs that protect them and help improve their futures,” said Dunlop. “Ontario’s most vulnerable children and youth deserve the best supports we can provide, and we look forward to hearing advice and ideas on how we can make a meaningful difference in their lives.”
Challenges the system is facing include:
- Children and youth don’t always get the quality of care they deserve.
- A disproportionate number of Black and Indigenous children and youth are in the care of children’s aid societies.
- Children and prospective adoptive parents are not being matched together for adoption as often as could be possible.
- The supports and services children and families access when they need help are not consistent across the province.
- Despite a 23 per cent reduction of the average number of children in care over the past six years, the system is not operating as efficiently as it should.
The government encourages youth, families, caregivers and frontline workers to provide feedback on their experiences and ideas through an online survey, which will be available August 30. As well, the ministry will be engaging directly with Indigenous partners, service providers and stakeholders for their input. All participants will be asked for their insights about the gaps, barriers, and opportunities to support better outcomes for children, youth and families.
During the consultation process, the government will also be engaging with a third party to assess and provide independent advice on modernizing services to ensure they are better coordinated, focused on prevention and are high-quality, culturally appropriate, and truly responsive to the needs of children, youth and families.
“Our vision is for an Ontario where every child and youth receiving child welfare services has the supports they need to succeed, and to thrive,” said Dunlop. Together, we will make this vision a reality.”
- There are more than 12,000 children and youth in care in Ontario.
- There are 50 children’s aid societies in Ontario, including 12 Indigenous and three faith-based societies. Two Indigenous agencies are currently in the process of seeking designation as children’s aid societies.
- Census data indicates that the proportion of Indigenous children in foster care in Ontario under the age of 14 increased from 26 per cent to 30 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
- Children’s Aid Society of Toronto data indicates Black and African-Canadian children in care are overrepresented at five times their representation in the city’s population.