More than 12,600 people have lent their support to Bill 88 to keep more Ontario kids from troubled homes off the street. We recently submitted a petition to the Provincial government to pass new legislation that would allow 16 and 17 year olds from homes with abuse and neglect who have never been involved with children’s aid to access the support they desperately need.
Kids suffering abuse or neglect often wait until they’re 16 to leave home because they can legally leave without fear of being taken back to their family. They believe they can make it on their own but their chances are perilously slim.
The young on the street are easy prey to predators that wait to exploit them. It is a dangerous and often deadly path. In fact, they are as much as 40 times more likely to die young than their housed peers.
At 16, youth who have not been involved with children’s aid are now too old to start getting help from the provincial system. They can’t get the financial support to live on their own and stay in school or the guidance they need – support that is available to their peers in care. This is unfair to these youth and puts them at a serious disadvantage.
Over 340,000 youth in Ontario are between 16 and 18. Almost 30,000 could be at risk of homelessness. Bill 88 would fill the gap for those who have not previously been involved with child welfare and would be more equitable. This critical initiative would help keep these kids from falling through the cracks. Many other provinces already provide similar support to youth in this age group.
We promoted the petition by email, social media and the website change.org. This month, we compiled the signatures and sent them to Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services, to present to Queen’s Park. We also sent a copy to Rod Jackson, the MPP who authored the bill. As of today, the bill is still pending.
We are grateful to our supporters who have taken a stand on Bill 88. We will continue to take every opportunity to advocate for the well-being of homeless and at-risk youth.