In Ontario almost 7,000 children and youth are Crown Wards. We know that everyone of these children needs to leave the foster care system with a family before they turn 18.
More than 5,000 of our Crown Wards are over the age of 12. These are the young people most at risk of aging out without a forever family. Only 5% of children and youth adopted were ages 13-18.7
7 OACAS 2013-2014 Child Welfare Service Survey which represents 40 of the 44 member agencies
We know that the outcomes for Youth who age out of foster care are not good. Research and experience have repeatedly reminded us:
- Fewer than 50% will complete high school.1
- Fewer than 3% will earn a college/university degree.1
Based on research in other jurisdictions, we can also assume that:
- Within the first two years of leaving care 25% will become homeless and 25% will become incarcerated.2
- More than 50% will have a psychiatric diagnosis.2
- 25% to 33% will suffer from PTSD.2
- 60% of the young women leaving care will have had a child within four years and that child is twice as likely to end up in care.2
2 Camillia Network; Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; Evan B. Donaldson Institute for Adoption 2012
IF we truly believe that Every KID DESERVES A FAMILY – every day and all year long, then the month of July, half way through our 2014 Adoption Awareness month campaign, is as good a time as any to re-commit to the actions that will make this slogan a reality.
What can you do?
Have a sense of urgency about how truly important it is to get children out of temporary foster care and into families that can make the lifetime commitment they need most.
If you are a family or adoption worker are you:
- Doing EVERYTHING possible to work with community programs to support a safe return of a child to birth parents?
- Exploring all of the possible kinship family options?
- Working with family members to learn everything possible about a child’s history from the perspective of lived experiences as well as family social and medical histories that can guide you in planning for children?
- Talking with the child to explain what has happened in their life and what might happen in the future?
- Working with your community medical, education and mental health programs to get the early assessments that will guide the best planning for the child while they are in foster care?
- Taking the time to learn about new research and education that will help you make timely but informed decisions for a child in care. (click to ACT page)
If you are a CAS manager or government program manager are you:
- Examining your policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure that they are fully focused on the importance of timely permanency for waiting children?
- Updating antiquated rules and guidelines that don’t reflect the reality of permanency planning today such as:
- You can’t adopt out of birth order
- Every child needs a traditional two-parent family
- Adoptive families should be able to manage the children they adopt without ongoing support
- Siblings can be separated if they are young and don’t remember each other
- Adoptive parents are not willing to adopt children if openness is required.
- Only a family in the same community can be considered for an older child who has established connections.
- Families don’t really want to adopt children with special needs
If you are a parent who is considering adoption have you:
- Attended a How to Adopt Session or looked at all of the adoption opportunities available to you – don’t be afraid to ask questions – email@example.com
- Explored the ‘scary’ topics such as parenting a child who has a special need – FASD, Autism, attachment challenges, developmental delays. Learn more about special needs and you will be surprised how much you can offer a waiting child.
- Begun the process to being AdoptReady and worked with your adoption worker to explore all the options that might work for your family.
If none of the above categories describe you- you can still be part of the solution. Consider:
- Joining the ACO to Invest in Building Families - as a donor, sponsor or member.
- Being an advocate for waiting children by learning more about adoption and permanency planning for waiting children and youth.
- Spreading the word on social media – you can find plenty of resources on ACO’s Facebook & Twitter.
7,000 children is a lot of children and if more people take the time to understand the issues and be a voice for waiting children – ACTION will happen.
Every year in Ontario about 1,000 youth leave foster care without a family. Every day the clock is ticking for every child who is not living with a permanent family. Adoption can be the answer for children who cannot return to the family they were born into.
We also know that the journey can be fraught with hurdles, barriers and curves in the road. As a province we must all commit to working together to reduce the barriers, support families with the challenges and build partnerships for permanency that will ensure that every child and youth has a FAMILY – to grow up and grow old in.
The Clock is ticking – click here to take the TIME to learn more.
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