Foster Care System in Canada

TORONTO, January 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Ontario’s governing Liberal Party has proposed a bill claiming to protect children that critics say actually gives the state more power to seize them from their families.

The changes could be used to enforce gender ideology in the home, pro-family critics are warning.

“The totalitarianism embedded in this bill is breathtaking,” says Campaign Life Coalition vice president Jeff Gunnarson. “These are gestapo-like tactics, and I can’t believe we’re witnessing it unfold in the legislature that’s supposed to represent us.”

If passed, it will completely repeal and replace the existing Child and Family Services Act, which governs Child Protection Services, Foster Care Services, and adoption and foster care services.

For most people, child protection is a $1.5 billion black box . Beyond vague notions of foster care and group homes, nobody knows what they do.

New research that for the first time calculates disparity in Ontario’s child protection system has found that aboriginal and black kids are far more likely to be investigated and taken into care than white children.

The estimates were extracted from the government-funded Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, compiled in 2013. A team of researchers, led by University of Toronto Prof. Barbara Fallon, examined a representative sample of 4,961 child protection investigations conducted by 17 children’s aid societies. The cases involved children up to age 14.

Of the dozen specific ethnic and racial categories examined, only black and aboriginal children were taken into care at rates higher than white kids.

On average, 15,625 Ontario children were in foster or group-home care in 2014-15. The latest figures indicate that only 2 per cent of children are removed from their home due to sexual abuse and 13 per cent for physical abuse. The rest are removed because of neglect, emotional maltreatment and exposure to violence between their parents or caregivers.

They are among Canada’s most vulnerable children and, for the first time in census history, their numbers have been counted.

According to the latest census release from Statistics Canada, a total of 47,885 children were living in foster care in Canada in 2011.

The majority of foster children – 29,590, or about 62 per cent – were aged 14 and under.

They were more likely to be living with couples, particularly married couples, with the proportion of children 14 and younger living in “out-of-home” care highest in Manitoba, followed by the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

The census doesn’t break down along aboriginal status. While there’s a higher proportion of aboriginal people in Manitoba and the North, “we can’t say that’s all among aboriginal children,” Badets said.

However, other national surveys have found that aboriginal children are tragically over-represented “at every point of contact in the child welfare system,” said Cindy Blackstock, of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

In 2007, the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal reviewed provincial annual reports and counted over 65,000 Canadian children in care on a single day.

More recent provincial data tell us that Canada has one of the highest rates of kids in care in the world.

We also know that not all Canadian children are equally likely to be placed in care. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada estimates that Indigenous children comprise 30-40 per cent of kids in care even though aboriginal population is less than five per cent of the total population of Canada.

So why does Canada have so many kids in care?

The answer largely lies in the approach. Canada (as well as the U.S.) favours a “child safety” approach to children’s welfare. This means that if a welfare agency identifies a child at risk, he or she is removed from the home. Child welfare agencies rely on foster homes and other types of placements to provide temporary, day-to-day care for children until the risks of abuse or neglect are resolved. But with so many kids in care, securing quality out-of-home care is a challenge across Canada.

Foster care is linked to homelessness in two ways. First, a foster care history is linked to later homelessness. Research highlights that over 40 percent of homeless youth in Canada have been involved with child welfare services, including foster care and group homes. This figure includes foster youth who have aged out of the system, those who left their placement due to negative experiences and youth who returned home or went to live with immediate or extended family members.

The second link between foster care and homelessness is related to family homelessness. Children of homeless families are more likely to end up in foster care or group homes. For homeless parents, homelessness, rather than parental substance use and/or mental illness, was more strongly associated with their children being placed in foster care. Although homelessness is not the only reason for youth entering into care, the system failures need to be addressed to produce better outcomes as a way to prevent and reduce youth homelessness.

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) ((Pub.L. 95–608, 92 Stat. 3069, enacted November 8, 1978), codified at 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901–1963.[1]) is a Federal law that governs jurisdiction over the removal of Native American (Indian) children from their families. Incredible is this possible in this century to think that a kid welfare is better protected by strangers that their own family.

Follow the Money – Children Aid Society

At the Sudbury children’s aid society. An audit there revealed senior managers charged more than $171,000 of “unreasonable” or otherwise questionable expenses between April 2013 and March 2015. And that doesn’t include another $290,000 in expenses on corporate cards that auditors couldn’t even account for because they could not determine which senior manager had charged them.

What they do know, though, is that a full $99,000 in unreasonable expenses were charged by one person: Colette Prévost, the former executive director, who now heads the York Region Children’s Aid Society. That included hotel rooms costing more than $200 per night, meals at more than $50 and taxi costs of more than $100. It also found $2,591 in expenses not related to Prévost’s job.

This questionable use of funds underlines yet again why the province needs to increase its oversight of the 47 children’s aid societies, which are responsible for the well-being of 15,000 kids.

First Nations children

Why pay 100 per cent of the cost of removing children from their homes instead of paying to keep them at home, which is often better option for children and less costly to the taxpayer?

The legal fight for equal services for Canada’s First Nation children began. Most Canadian children receive family and children’s services relatively easily, through provincially regulated and funded agencies. First Nations children, however, struggle to receive basic services which rarely meet provincial standards and suffer from underfunding by the federal government.

After years of delays and hearings, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) issued its ruling in January 2016 that First Nations Family and Children’s Services are discriminatory on the basis of race and national ethnic origin and ordered the Government of Canada to immediately end the discrimination and reform the system.

Although agencies are struggling to cover their operating costs and provide critical services, another stream of services is reimbursed 100 per cent by the Government of Canada: out-of-home care, such as foster care. Because of this, there is an incentive for First Nations children to be placed into foster care, even if it is not necessary — solely because these agencies have no other option.

Rarely are these foster homes located in the child’s own community. Only 44 per cent of the time are these children placed in families identifying as aboriginal. It makes no sense. Why pay 100 per cent of the cost of removing children from their homes instead of paying to keep them at home, which is often better option for children and less costly to the taxpayer?

This example provides insight into why 48 per cent of Canadian children in out-of-home care are First Nations, despite making up just 7 per cent of all children in Canada.

The story of a kid

During his short 18 years, Gervais was placed in 17 different living locations, some just hotels, with 23 different caregivers. How is that better that living with his own parents?

From 2004 to 2006 alone, when he was seven to nine years old, he lived in nine different foster homes.

Despite having an aunt and a step-mother who wanted to take him in, the report says he was written off as ageing out of care long before he turned 18.

“Opportunities for Alex to be permanently placed with his stepmother in B.C., or with an aunt and her family in Québec, were missed by MCFD, in favour, ultimately, of placing him in the long-term care of a contracted residential agency. Both these family members expressed considerable interest in having Alex live with them permanently and RCY investigators could find no concrete reasons why either of those family placement options would not have worked for Alex. In fact, this investigation finds that the ministry and its delegates failed to adequately explore either option.”

He committed suicide.

Follow the Money

Ontario have 47 privately run children’s aid societies.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which regulates child protection and funds societies with $1.5 billion annually in Ontario Canada.

Children’s aid societies have long witnessed the grinding effect of poverty on families but have rarely spoken out about it or pressured policy makers.

Children whose families ran out of money for housing were twice as likely to be placed with foster parents or group homes, according to an analysis of Ontario children taken into care in 2013.

Similar rates were found for families who ran out of money for food or for utilities. Children with a parent suffering from addiction or mental health problems were also placed in care at about twice the overall rate.

“These families struggle to put food on the table, they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Some of them work two or three jobs,”

And the reason children’s aid is in their lives is because of those vulnerabilities. They’re under a lot of stress and that affects their parenting.