"Children's Aid Needs Aid"
As some of you may know, Ontario is going to elect a new Premier in October. I have some another concern about youth with disabilities (separate from the one about about funding, about which I've already spoken to my Member of Provincial Parliament).
Talking to the Politicians
Dear Electoral Candidate,
As the election approaches, I feel the need to speak to you about child protection in the province.
I realize that the Children's Aid Society and the Catholic Children's Aid Society provide protection for children and youth up until the age of 16 (and thank goodness for that!) At 16 many teens can handle finding alternate accommodation with a friend or relative if a home situation is still abusive, or even handle independent living if truly necessary.
For teens with physical and/or intellectual disabilities, or a dual diagnosis of a, intellectual disability and a mental condition or an addiction, it's often not so easy. Their needs may make it less likely that people will take them in, and they may not have the skills that they need to live independently. Unless they're coming directly from a Children's Aid situation where they've been a Crown Ward, they can't access the the Extended Care and Maintenance program that would allow them to keep receiving CAS support up to age 21, and they're not eligible for Adult Protective Services until age 18. That leaves many youth with disabilities in a situation where, while they can access other social services to potentially make the time at home easier, they can't access protection services for two years. That's a long time to live in an abusive situation where you don't have the means, skills, or power to get yourself out, especially if you simply don't know how to find the resources that you need.
It wouldn't only only be youth with disabilities in this group. Some non-disabled youth leaving Children's Aid not as Crown Wards are going to need protection for another couple of years just because of their situation as well. Not everyone is confident about handling life and adult decisions at age 16.
Please raise Children's Aid's funding so that it can adequately meet the needs of children and youth in Ontario that need it, right up until adult services kick in at age 18. An investment in our children's safety in an investment in their future, Ontario's, and Canada's. This really needs to be a priority. I'd gladly endorse the party that commits to addressing this within the next four years.
So That's It
I've been thinking about this one for a long time.
I need to find some stamps...
Have a great weekend. :)