Is it acceptable that over 67,000 children are in state care, without a permanent home, and that a high percentage leave state care at age 16 or 18 without support that other children get from their families?
On September 26, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will ask Canada what is being done to reduce the number of children growing up without permanent families. They will ask about support for adolescents in care to make the transition to independent living. All children deserve a good start in life. When they don’t get it, the costs are higher. A recent BC report found that over 50% of young people in the criminal justice system had been in the child welfare system. Canada can do better on this child rights issue.
The federal government says it has no responsibility for these young people, even though they are Canadian citizens with a right to equitable treatment. Many provincial child welfare systems do not meet international standards for the treatment of children in state care. Governments at all levels need to put the best interests of these children first.
Addressing this problem is the right thing to do – and it is smart. Canada cannot afford to let so many children fall through the cracks of inadequate support systems, in light of our aging population.
Watch what government officials say about this issue on September 26-27 and add your views. For more information, read the chapter on children in care in CCRC report, section on Vulnerable Children: Paying Attention to Vulnerable Children; Accorder une attention particulière aux enfants vulnérables.