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May 22, 2009 permalink
Andrea Horwath is calling for an inquest into the quality of care in group homes following a case in which a fifteen-year-old girl left a home to go into prostitution.
So what keeps a girl from becoming a prostitute? Or any other teen on the straight and narrow? One force, from the teen's point of view, is: "My parents would be (ashamed/angry/hurt) if they found out I was a (prostitute/shoplifter/junkie)". Well, this force doesn't operate in the group home, where there are no parents. Looked at another way, it is impossible to follow the biblical injunction to honor your parents when you don't have any. Group home residents have had the full weight of the law used to separate them from their parents, and every other remnant of their family. The legal parent, a social worker, can make contracts on behalf of the child, but she sees her ward only monthly, and her identity shifts with staff changes at children's aid. And what sort of a bond does a child develop with the social worker? Here is an (offensive) example. It is not the kind of bond that will get the child to stay in good graces. For group home children, the most important behavioral inhibition has been cut off.
An inquest, if held, is unlikely to deal with the serious problems, instead focusing on trivialities such as staff training, or bashing of pimps.
Teenage girls easy prey for pimps lurking outside
May 20, 2009, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A public inquiry must be held into the quality of care in Ontario’s group homes where teenaged girls continue to be easy prey for pimps who lurk outside, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said today.
Two young men were arrested this week for allegedly luring a 15-year-old girl from a Mississauga group home, giving her fake identification and forcing her to serve up sex in a strip club.
The teen was the latest in a long list of girls who police say have been plucked from group homes with promises of a glamorous lifestyles, then forced to prostitute themselves and give all their cash to pimps.
“They want to be loved. They are missing something. They have never had the sense of belonging and that’s where the attraction for the gangs, the attraction for the pimps, attraction for any kind of structure, even if it is damaging and negative, (comes from),” said Inas Garwood, executive director of Streetlights Support Services in Toronto, who works with many juvenile prostitutes who came from group homes.
“Yes, they (group homes) give routine, they give meals and they give basic needs, but the emotional and psychological aspects are not found.”
Group homes are often part of a long chain of command — the provincial government contracts work to Children’s Aid Societies, which contract work to independent agencies — that lacks a standard of care across the board, Garwood said.
Annual checks and balances include documentation of health and safety but don’t make homes accountable for counselling services and life skills training, Garwood said.
“There’s a complete lack of standards around the care that’s provided in foster care and in group homes,” Horwath said.
Two years ago, Ontario’s child advocate of the time, Judy Finlay, penned a report that looked at the quality of care provided through residential services of the Children’s Aid Societies of Toronto, Peel Region and Thunder Bay.
The first of Finlay’s 26 recommendations was, “that there be a public inquiry into the standards and quality of care afforded children in state care across Canada.”
“The inquiry needs to happen ... and the commitment from government to make the change,” Horwath said.
Deb Matthews, minister of children and youth services, said she is “extremely concerned about kids who are in our care.”
But a public inquiry into their care is “not something that I will be moving forward with right now,” she said from Calgary.
Source: Hamilton Spectator