leaving foster care

Leaving Foster Care in Ontario: What Do You Think?

Something different is happening at Ontario’s provincial legislature this month; a group of youth has come together to give politicians and bureaucrats advice that could lead to changes in Ontario’s foster care program.

This isn’t a school project, it’s an initiative that started when Irwin Elman, the independent Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, met with a group of foster kids to get their ideas about how the transition out of care could be improved.

After some discussion, Elman noted that while they had some good ideas none of them were new. One of the participants replied, “OK buddy, so what are you going to do about it now?”

A chance for foster kids to be heard

What’s happening now are the “Youth Leaving Care Hearings”, held on November 18 and 25 at Queen’s Park in Toronto. These hearings have been coordinated by a team of young adults who have recently left foster care.

As covered in this CBC news story, a key issue is “aging out” — what happens when a crown ward turns 18 or, if they continue with school, age 21: “When Crown wards turn 18, whether they are ready or not, they have to start fending for themselves. By the time they are 21, they are totally cut off from the system both financially and emotionally — a reality that is difficult to accept for many young people.”

Working with volunteers, the team behind the hearings, is collecting and reviewing input received from people across the province, hearing from those who want to share their ideas and working on a report that will be presented to Ontario’s Legislative Assembly next year and shared with others who have the power to make change.

Have your say

What do you think could be changed to make the transition easier? Whether you’re a parent, professional or someone who is in or has left foster care, they want to hear from you.

You can style your submission any way you want: write a letter, speak, create a video, even make art. Make your submission before January 3, 2012.  You can also get in touch on Twitter (@OurVoiceOurTurn), on Facebook and YouTube.