Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth calls for fundamental changes to the child welfare system to allow young people take control of their lives

by ahnationtalk on May 14, 2015725 Views

Toronto (May 14, 2015) – Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Irwin Elman is urging government and child welfare leaders to work together to remove systemic and cultural barriers within the child welfare system. Elman was speaking at an event in Toronto in recognition of Children and Youth in Care Day.

“At every turn, many young people in care said they feel invisible, with life-changing decisions made without their knowledge, involvement or even consent,” said Elman. “If we are truly committed to helping youth reach their full potential and live successful, independent lives after they leave care, then we need to stop setting low expectations for them and remove barriers that deny them the opportunities and tools to shape their future,” said Elman. “These changes don’t require money, but they do require a shift in the way we view young people by caring about them, rather than caring for them.”

Shanna Allen was taken into care at the age of eight after her mother suffered from a serious illness. She was never told by child welfare authorities where she was going to live; with whom;  if this was a temporary or permanent arrangement; and if she would ever see her mother again. She was later made a crown ward and placed in various foster homes. Not once was Shanna asked if she wanted to be considered for adoption or given an opportunity to have a say about what was happening in her life.

“When you have no control over your life, it takes a huge mental and physical toll. You don’t feel loved,  valued or accepted by others. You simply feel helpless as others determine your

future,” said Allen.

Currently, many young people are struggling after they transition out of care and are left without earlier supports provided by the province:

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