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Extend Foster Care

October 12, 2011 permalink

CAS wants to end the outflow of runaway children who go back to mom and dad at age 16. In the article below Barbara MacKinnon does her best to portray the increase in age limit to 18 as a benefit to children.



CAS wants Ontario age of intervention raised to 18

Barbara MacKinnon
Ottawa CAS chief Barbara MacKinnon says children should get support at the critical ages of 16 to 18.

The Children's Aid Society wants the province of Ontario to expand its mandate to allow it to intervene in the lives of children over the age of 16.

Currently the CAS can only be involved with older teens if it was already involved with them before they turned 16.

The Society also has the power to intervene with children who are already under its care until they are 21 years old.

But the CAS says Ontario is one of the few provinces that doesn't carry the responsibility to care to the age of 18, and said that leads older teens to end up in shelters rather than finishing high school.

"We kind of stand out nationally as not supporting a group at a critical age," said Barbara MacKinnon, head of Ottawa's CAS.

"Education is a critical leveller for youth, and if they're a part of our system we'll have an opportunity to support them beyond 18."

However, teens who talked to CBC News said they would rather be free to make their own choices without CAS interference.

"I think that's wrong because at 18 years old ... I moved out on my own when I was 14," said 18-year-old Ottawa resident Kelsey Tan.

"CAS didn't really get involved. I saw a worker once, and she just never came by and talked to me again."

The CAS is also seeking to move up the age where it can intervene for children under its care from 21 to 23 to allow it to help young adults attend university.

But, Tan said, she worries about what kind of authority that might give the CAS over her decisions into adulthood.

Micha Engel said helping former foster kids like him get a higher education is good. But, he said, the CAS is too tolerant of bad foster parents, and that he'd have concerns about what kind of measures would be put in place to make sure education funds go where they are intended.

"Put the cheque into your name, but co-sign it to school you're going to," said Engel.

"The parents don't see it, neither do you, they send it directly to that school." If the CAS provided that kind of assistance, he said, then it might be useful for teens in need of assistance.

Source: CBC