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More Foster Care

March 7, 2015 permalink

In the last legislature Rod Jackson proposed a bill to extend the age of foster care. It died when the legislature was dissolved for a new election, one in which the voters turfed out Mr Jackson.

But rejection by the voters never stops children's aid. Jim McDonell, the MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, wants to achieve the same effect with a private members bill to extend the age at which children can enter foster care from sixteen to eighteen. The article based on his proposal shows only one side. He wants teenagers to have an alternative to life on the street. As usual for this kind of advocacy, the article contains a misrepresentation. The quoted cost of foster care, $1000 per month, is what foster parents are paid. The taxpayers pay CAS nearly triple that amount. The difference is the vigorish supporting the agency.



MPP McDonell advocating for teens in need

Jim McDonell
MPP Jim McDonell.
File photo

Local MPP Jim McDonell wants to find a better place for parent-less older teens than the "street" or "couch-surfing".

McDonell is introducing a private member's bill into the Ontario legislature Thursday in the hopes of securing safer surroundings.

The bill would resurrect a previously discarded attempt by former MPP Rod Jackson, a Progressive Conservative colleague who was defeated in the June 2014 election.

In 2013, then Liberal Child and Youth Services Minister Theresa Piruzza advocated for Jackson.

McDonell said the value of his new bill still remains valid.

"If a child comes into the (Children's Aid Society), the CAS cannot take them when they're 16 or 17 (years old)," McDonell said.

An 18-year-old is considered an adult, but even adults as old as 21 can receive CAS assistance if they had been client before the age of 16.

"We're talking kids in Grade 10-11-12 who are in need through no fault of their own, whether it's abuse or death of a (parent).

"They have no place for them, so they're looking for a place to sleep."

Worse yet, some teenagers get so desperate they turn to crime to support themselves or drop out of school to find a job.

McDonell said he has no local figure to estimate how many 16-17 year olds would benefit.

Jackson's bill had already been well received by the New Democrats and advocates with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, the Justice for Children organization that supplies legal aid for youth, as well as representatives from the Youth Leaving Care hearings of 2011.

NDP MPP Monique Taylor had said that approximately 8,300 youth had requested the provincial government not cut them off at age 18 during the Youth Leaving Care hearings.

Taylor also noted that other government legislation, such as Age of Majority, the Education Act and the Law Reform Act, consider teenagers to be children until the age of 18.

"It's time to bring the Ontario child welfare system in line with other laws," she said in the fall of 2013.

McDonell said there might be an extra cost to CAS budgets, but this would be far-outweighed by additional costs as a result of homelessness, incarceration and policing.

Meanwhile, the average CAS cost for care each month is $1,000.

Source: Cornwall Standard Freeholder