Today marks a significant day for the thousands of young people across Ontario living in care – the release of “My REAL Life Book,” a special report outlining recommendations from last fall’s Youth Leaving Care Hearings.
Last November’s Hearings, which received almost 200 submissions, examined the challenges young people living in care face when they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for support through Ontario’s Child Welfare System.
Today’s report outlined concrete steps for moving forward, including the key recommendation that the Province of Ontario should work with young people in and from care to complete an Action Plan for Fundamental Change by November 2012.
UNICEF Canada’s Chief Advisor, Advocacy, Marv Bernstein participated in the hearings last fall and was pleased that many of UNICEF Canada’s recommendations were included in today’s final report, such as expanding extended care from age 21 to the age of 25.
“We are pleased that UNICEF Canada has played a part in influencing the recommendations set out in the Youth Leaving Care Report. We support these well-considered, youth-driven recommendations, which provide a framework for concrete and collaborative action that can be taken by the Province of Ontario,” he says.
Other recommendations include: allowing youth to stay in foster care and group home care until they are prepared for independence; declaring “Children and Youth in Care Day”; commiting to ensuring that every child in care has ongoing health and education plans; commiting to collecting and publishing information on how children and youth in care are doing; and creating an online resource for children and youth in and from care.
UNICEF Canada is confident these steps will make a real difference in the lives of young people living in care across Ontario. The participatory process of the Hearings was an excellent model of youth engagement that should be considered when reviewing other important issues affecting children and youth, in every province and territory across the country.
For more information about UNICEF Canada’s involvement and submission, please click here.