OTTAWA--(Marketwired - May 14, 2013) - On Ontario's first Children and Youth in Care Day, the Adoption Council of Canada is joining the voice of children and youth in care to urge the province to step up its efforts to explore all forms of permanency for youth before they age out of the foster care system.
A year ago, the Minister of Children and Youth Services accepted the My REAL Life Book report on behalf of the government of Ontario and made a commitment to work towards fundamental change.
My REAL Life Book contains recommendations from the Ontario Youth Leaving Care Hearings, one of which was to honour children and youth in care on this day every year. Today we raise awareness, reduce stigma, and recognize the young people who, through no fault of their own, have the province for a parent.
As we reflect on the Youth Leaving Care hearings, we remember the messages of youth in care, those who aged out of the system and those former Crown wards who have been adopted. What is clear from their testimony is that children and youth in care need more options. They need to know that finding a permanent family or making a permanent connection to at least one stable, loving and consistent adult is possible. They also need to know the province will devote the financial resources and the political capital to reducing the number of youth who age out of the system without permanent families.
"Everybody deserves a family -- even me," one of the teens on the Adoption Council of Canada's Youth Speak Out team wrote recently.
Adoption, kinship care, customary care and legal guardianship are all important permanency options. Identifying the right one for a child and making it happen should be the province's over-riding goal as soon as that child becomes a Crown ward.
"Ontario is making great strides forward in its commitment to reducing the number of children and youth in foster care," says Laura Eggertson, president of the Adoption Council of Canada. "Let's keep that momentum going by ensuring we all do our best to prioritize permanency for older children and youth in care, and by supporting the families who do take these children and teens into their homes."
Through its programs and services, the Adoption Council of Canada aims to bring about awareness and permanency for the 30,000 children and youth in care awaiting forever families. To learn about how YOU can get involved, please contact 1-888-54-ADOPT, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.adoption.ca.
- There are more than 8,000 children and youth in the care of Ontario's Children's Aid Societies who are looking for their forever family. The majority of these children and youth are between the ages of 13 and 18, yet they represent a small percentage of those being adopted. Last year, children between 13 and 18 represented 61% of the 8,000 children needing permanent families, yet only 3.6% of these children were adopted through Ontario's public adoption system.
- Children and youth who age out of the foster care system without forever families will be more likely than their peers to drop out of school, become homeless, end up in contact with the justice system, rely on social assistance or become teen parents. Without permanent families, children and youth in care are at risk of perpetuating the cycle of trauma and abuse they have experienced.
- Only 50 percent of youth in care graduate from high school, most by GED. Only 2 percent of youth in care go on to post-secondary education, compared to 24 percent of the general population.
- Youth in care are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized for mental health issues than the general public.
- Children who are adopted score higher on IQ tests than non-adopted siblings or peers, and perform better in academic and social settings.
- Adopted children are also more likely to have increased involvement in positive, structured activities, such as sports, music and community organizations.