Help for Kids Leaving Care Welcomed

Our Executive Director Bruce Rivers with Child and Youth Services
Minister Laurel Broten
TORONTO, ON, Jan. 24, 2013 – The province’s commitment to extend financial and emotional support for youth leaving care could help reduce the high number of these young people who become homeless,” Bruce Rivers, Covenant House Executive Director said.

Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten announced a series of sweeping changes to the child welfare system, including extended support to youth aged 21 to 25 leaving care and who are in school to improve their chances of success.

She unveiled the government’s plan at the downtown agency for homeless youth that serves many of these young people. A report by the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth cites an estimated 40 percent of youth from child welfare find themselves homeless. A recent Covenant House youth survey found that one in four youth had been in care.

“We are hopeful that the commitment to extend support for youth in care and those who are leaving care will help more of them succeed. We believe this is a step in the right direction that can move Ontario forward as a leader in the field in Canada,” said Rivers, who was a member of the Working Group that presented the minister with recommended changes earlier this week.

Rivers also noted that he was particularly encouraged by the announcement of funding for special community workers to provide ongoing support to youth as they transition out of care – an initiative similar to a program offered by Covenant House.

“We are excited by the plans for Youth in Transition workers in the community to provide ongoing support to help youth move towards independence,” he said. “Based on our experience with a similar program, I believe this will go a long way in helping young people succeed.”

Over the past four years, the agency has successfully piloted a Youth in Transition program to provide flexible one-on-one support in the community to young people moving to independence. Covenant House workers help young people with life skills and counselling as well as housing, jobs and educational opportunities, and connect them to other resources. Last year, the program served more than 40 youth, most of whom have been involved with the Catholic Children’s Aid.

The program is delivered in partnership with other Catholic youth-serving agencies and is funded by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Rivers said he was privileged to serve on the Working Group appointed last year that included community representatives and young people currently and previously in care.

“It was such a positive experience working with the community members and the inspiring young people who played an integral role in driving these changes,” he said.

Covenant House, the country’s largest shelter for homeless youth, serves about 3,500 young people annually and has the widest range of services under one roof, including educational and employment assistance, counselling and health care. The agency relies on donors for more than 80 percent of its almost $19-million annual operating budget.

Contact: Rose Cino
Manager, Communications
(416) 204-7081

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Facts & Stats

There are 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto each year

Homeless youth are forty times more likely to die than other youth

70% of homeless youth are fleeing homes with abuse and neglect

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