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January 24, 2007 permalink
The Ontario government announced a reform to the child protection system. Formerly, relatives caring for a child received no pay for foster care. Now, grandparents or other relatives caring for a child can receive the same foster care payments as a stranger. Following an excerpt from the press release, we give our comments.
McGuinty Government Supporting Grandparents Who Care For Vulnerable Grandchildren
Extended Family, Community Members May Be Eligible For Support
NIAGARA FALLS, ON, Jan. 23 /CNW/ - Grandparents, extended family members and community members who care for children in need of protection may now be eligible for financial support and services as part of new reforms to Ontario's child well-being and protection system, Minister of Children and Youth Services Mary Anne Chambers announced today.
"Children who are unable to grow up with their parents due to protection concerns should have the opportunity, wherever possible, to grow up with members of their extended families," said Chambers. "Protection of Ontario's children is our number one priority. These new supports and services will encourage and enable grandparents and extended family or community members to provide the stability and security where children are not able to stay with their parents because of safety concerns."
Under the new policy, grandparents and extended family or community members who are looking after a child in the care of a children's aid society (CAS), and who are approved as foster parents, will receive the foster care rate of approximately $900 per month from their local CAS. This includes members of aboriginal communities who are looking after a child under customary care arrangements.
"Some grandparents have told us that they want a system that makes it easier for them to adopt their grandchildren or become their legal guardians or foster parents," said Niagara Falls MPP, Kim Craitor. "As a result of today's announcement, more grandparents and extended family members will be able to provide vulnerable children with caring, secure homes."
Grandparents and extended family or community members caring for Crown wards who obtain legal custody, or who decide to adopt those children, may also be eligible for funding and support services, up to the foster care rate.
The changes also mean that grandparents and extended family or community members looking after children who are in need of protection, but have not been admitted to the formal care of a CAS, could be eligible for emergency financial aid for a variety of needs.
"For a long time, many grandparents and kinship family members have wanted to care for their vulnerable grandchildren and kinship children, however have been unable to do so because they could not get the funding or services they needed," said Betty Cornelius, president of CANGRANDS, a national support group for grandparents and Kinship family members raising kin-children. "We are delighted that the government has listened to those who advocate for kinship children who need care, and the grandparents and extended family or community members who are willing to give them safe, loving, permanent homes to grow up in."
"Grand-Parenting Again Canada has made it a goal for the past 5 years to receive financial support for children living with alternate kin equal to that of foster parents," said Sandra Schoenfeldt, president of Grand-Parenting Again Canada. "Our hope is more children will be able to stay with their family members now that our provincial government is making this commitment."
"We have advocated for over six years for recognition for grandparents raising grandchildren. We see more and more grandparents, many of whom are widows, on fixed incomes taking care of their grandchildren and in desperate need of financial assistance," said Sheila Volchert, spokesperson for Second Chance for Kids. "Today's announcement will finally give grandparents and their grandchildren a more secure future."
These measures are part of the reforms the McGuinty government has made to strengthen Ontario's child well-being and protection system. In February 2006, the government also introduced a kinship regulation to require background checks on all adults in the home where children in need of protection will be living.
Source: press release from Ministry of Children and Youth Services
the linked file has the full text
Commentary: Child protectors prefer foster care to in-home care, so much so that the latter is nearly extinct in Ontario. At budget time that allows them to present the legislature with a dilemma — give us our funding, or see foster children go without food and shelter. The legislature always pays. Not so with in-home care. That gives the legislators the option of reducing funding, and letting the families pay more of their children's upkeep.
Foster payments for grandparents are subject to the same vulnerability. The legislature could cut the funding. We predict yesterday's reform will be short-lived, either because a legislative action will cut funding to grandparents, or because children's aid societies will forestall such a cut by placing only small numbers of children with grandparents.