On November 18 and 25, 2011, Youth in Care from across the province of Ontario participated in the “Youth Leaving Care Hearings” at Queen’s Park, which were the first public hearings organized and run by young people. The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth worked with youth from across the province to address the issues faced by 8,300 children and youth who are Crown Wards across Ontario. These hearings addressed the many challenges faced by children and youth in care in the province and highlighted that more must be done for our youth. Several youth from Guelph and Wellington participated in the hearings and were invited to speak directly to people from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.
Currently, youth “age out” of care at 18, and can continue to receive support from a Children’s Aid Society until the age of 21. However, many of these youth have not had the opportunity to develop the skills they need to be successful living independently. They are “cut off” from support before they are ready to be on their own. Many of these youth have not had the benefit of a safe and stable family environment from which they can launch when they are ready. We know that the average Canadian youth does not begin to live independently until their mid-20’s.
After the Hearings, youth read and analyzed all of the submissions, and incorporated these submissions into a report, called “My Real Life Book”. This book was presented to Ontario Legislature on May 14, 2012, and contained many recommendations about how to make improvements for Ontario’s Crown Wards. One of the outcomes of this process is Bill 90, an act to proclaim May 14 as Children and Youth in Care Day, which is currently being passed through the Ontario Legislature.
To learn more about the hearings, read “My Real Life Book”, and hear about what is happening at the offices of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, visit www.provincialadvocate.on.ca