New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness - APTN NewsAPTN News

New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness


The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A first-of-its-kind study in Canada is drawing a link between youth homelessness levels and a foster care system that researchers say could be playing a more active role in keeping young people off the streets.

The study, to be released Wednesday, found nearly three out of every five homeless youth were part of the child welfare system at some point in their lives.

That is a rate almost 200 times greater than that of the general population.

Of those with a history in the child welfare system, almost two of every five respondents eventually “aged out” of provincial or territorial care, losing access to the sort of support that could have kept them from becoming homeless, the study found.

Canada is creating a group of young people who are at higher risk of becoming homeless because they lack resources when coming out of foster care, said Stephen Gaetz, the study’s co-author and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

The report urges the federal government to focus on preventing youth homelessness – particularly among Indigenous youth – and provinces and territories to focus on “after care” by providing support as needed until age 25.

“We’re not calling out child protection services. We’re not pointing fingers going, ‘It’s horrible what you’re doing,”’ Gaetz said.

“Rather, we’re saying this is an unintended consequence of a whole number of things, but it’s something that we can identify as leading to bad outcomes when young people leave care.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government’s self-proclaimed minister for youth, may want to champion the issue himself to ensure system-wide changes, he added.

The study, based on a survey of 1,103 young people who were experiencing homelessness in 42 different communities in nine provinces and Nunavut, offers the first national portrait of Canada’s population of homeless youth.

Aged 13 to 24, homeless youth make up about one-fifth of Canada’s homeless population. In raw numbers, that means there are about 6,500 people in that age cohort experiencing homelessness on any given night.

New census data released last week reported some 43,880 youth in foster care in 2016, a decline of about 4,000 from the 47,890 young people Statistics Canada counted in 2011, the first time such data was collected for the census.

The problem is particularly acute for Indigenous youth, who in 2011 made up nearly half of the children in care nationally. Statistics Canada is set to release more census details about Canada’s Aboriginal population later this fall.

The study says that the problems with Indigenous child welfare, which governments have vowed to tackle, highlight the need for structural reforms to help marginalized populations in Canada, such as Indigenous people and new immigrants.

“None of these approaches can be a one-size-fits-all approach,” said study co-author David French, director of policy and planning with A Way Home, a national, anti-youth homelessness coalition.

“So when you speak about Indigenous young people or young people who identify as LGBTQ2S, or new immigrant young people, each of them does require a targeted response underneath a specific strategy.”

LGBTQ2S stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit, the latter term referring specifically to members of the Indigenous community.

Last week’s census figures also showed one in three Canadians aged 20-34 lived with at least one parent in 2016, an increase of five percentage points between 2001 and 2016.

The numbers were particularly acute in some of the country’s hottest housing markets, with one in two young people living with at least one parent in Toronto last year.

Child protection legislation hasn’t kept pace with these social and economic changes that have made it more difficult for young people to live independently, Gaetz said.

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2 Responses to “New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness”

    shona August 10, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    I highly disagree with the content of this study, because when giving out homeless food in Calgary it seemed to be nearly half the homeless were either children from care or parents devistated by child’s services involvement. You may not be placing blame, but I sure am. Do a study that shows the permanent damage done to parents and children by children’s services and than you will have a more accurate picture. Parents without their children lose hope and their will to be better people. Children who lose parents who they know are flawed but love them lose hope. Children beat, molested and raped in foster homes never get over it, and often are sent places worse than they came from. My son was in a group home in Red Deer where the staff let them stay out til four in the morning. That’s the love and care our children receive when removed from their families. Unless a child is being physically harmed removing that child does more damage than good. Even worse is the amount of power given to these third party interlopers. They still feel they need more. They blame kinship for deaths when they are the ones who decide how much time the parents gets with the kids. They let high risk people kill their kids and then blame not having stricter laws. They are moving towards ultimate authority and no one is doing anything to stop them. So here is how it works. If 3000 kids in the system turn 18 this year they need to apprehend 3000 more to keep their jobs. They need to apprehend more if they want more funding. They have to justify their existence… and now that they are finding less kids in these extreme situations they have to take kids for minor infractions. They no longer need proof or evidence… and you will find the most shocking and disturbing acts are committed by parents who were groomed by this organization. They create the next generation of children to take by keeping foster kids in unrealistic settings and situations. Former foster children get away with crimes like raping an 11 year old for months threatening to kill her parents with a mere five years cause they were abused as foster kids. Over 400 kids saved from a pedophile ring… when I asked I was told approximately 70% were foster kids or under ward of the state. I’m grateful you people are looking at the facts related to homeless kids… but this story goes so much deeper. This is intentional. Kids with no skills turn to crime and other means to survive. They make poor life choices. Often they end up with kids and no skills to take care of them.. which puts them and their kids right back in the system. Foster children are groomed for failure, and that should be put directly on the childrens services department. Thank you for your time.

      Brown August 12, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

      I think that mcfd is being groomed to be another legal form of residential schools but will be children in care first nations all the beatings rape starvation mental abuse and after all this theyre thrown out in the streets to fend for themselves eventually they have fsmilies that they have no idea how to raise their children and they end of in the system like a wheel it keeps on going around and ariund with each new generation i would suggest to trudeau that he build big care homes for first nation youth and train first nations to run them on their own lands