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30 2011

A Follow-Up on Crown Wards

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

The subject of last night's program --- how crown wards are cut off of support when they turn 18 --- came up in the Ontario Legislature's Question Period yesterday. Here's what happened, in an exchange between Monique Taylor (NDP - Hamilton Mountain) and Eric Hoskins (Lib - St. Paul's), the minister for children and youth services:   Child care  Miss Monique Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services.The government of Ontario is the primary parent for over 8,000 children in Ontario. Over the last two Fridays, a group of these youths organized hearings here at Queen’s Park to share their experiences. I listened to their heartbreaks, their dreams and recommendations. Like all young people, they just want to succeed, but right now, extended care management is the only system of support available to them, and it cuts them off at the age of 21. Will the Minister of Children and Youth listen to our children and finally modernize extended care maintenance?   Hon. Eric Hoskins: Well, thank you. First I’d like to congratulate the member from Hamilton Mountain on her election, and also being appointed critic to this important ministry. I want to say that absolutely, I am prepared to listen to this community of young people. In fact, I was proud—and quite humbled, to be honest—to attend both days of hearings here at Queen’s Park, last Friday and the Friday before. And I have to tell you that the presentations by these youth—and in fact the hearings themselves, of course, although catalyzed by the provincial advocate, an advocate that we appointed and made independent—were in fact organized by youth in care and youth who had recently come out of care as crown wards and former crown wards. The presentations and the stories that I heard were both heartbreaking, in many cases, but also incredibly inspiring. I look forward to the report coming out in the spring.    The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?    Miss Monique Taylor: Last May, Ontario New Democrats proposed extending the age of support to the kids in care from 21 to 25. This would allow these young people to finish post-secondary education, enter the workplace, find stability and break the cycle of dependency. For years, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the youth themselves, Children’s Aid and child welfare agencies have all recommending extending this support, yet the McGuinty Liberals have ignored these proposals. Speaker, will the minister finally do the right thing, work with the NDP and ensure that the youth in care have the tools they need to succeed?   Hon. Eric Hoskins: Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to say first of all that I am very much looking forward to working closely with my critic from the third party, and I look forward to getting good ideas in terms of how we can further reduce the challenges that our crown wards and those exiting care face. I was certainly inspired by these extremely courageous and brave individuals. But I also want to say that we have made historic improvements and quite remarkable changes very recently,  with the Building Families and Supporting Youth to be Successful Act, which as you know the member opposite knows, was proclaimed this past September and, along with other reforms, makes it easier for prospective parents to adopt these individuals. They also allow wards who exit the system voluntarily at age 16 or 17 to return to the children’s aid society. This is a new change that we implemented to be eligible for financial and other supports until the age of 21, including the important extended care maintenance support.  

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