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The Foster Care System

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Linds Izsak

on 7 March 2014

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Transcript of The Foster Care System

Article #1: Maximizing educational opportunities for youth aging out of foster care by engaging youth voices in a partnership for social change

Inside Canada's Foster Care System
By: Bryanna Verhaeghe, Cynthia Feo, & Lindsay Izsak
The Ontario Foster Care System
Historical Background
What is being done?
Advocacy Groups
Children's Voices
Strengths and Weaknesses
What is Foster Care
Why do children come into foster care?

Why a child may be placed in care :
Current family situation puts child at risk
Parent/caregiver is ill or unavailable and cannot make alternate arrangements.
Abuse, neglect, abandonment
3 methods:
1) Children’s aid society
2) Voluntarily by the parent/caregiver
3) Court order
What Happens When Allegations are Made
Report, allegation of abuse or threat against a child’s safety is reported to an intake worker at CAS
CAS protection worker investigates the situation: if they deems the child’s home unfit and a threat to the child’s safety, child is removed from the home and placed with an available foster family

Who are the children in foster care
Range from infancy to 18
Variety of cultural, economic and religious backgrounds
May have special physical, developmental, emotional or mental needs
Issue in Perspective
16 953 children are in the care of Ontario’s CASs out of 3.1 million children in the province
1 in every 182 children
of the 16 953 in care, 9211 (55%) are in the foster care system
CAS London = 500 in foster care
How long are children in foster care?
Focus of CAS is to use foster care as a short term solution for care and try to return the child to their home
Child’s times in care varies based on their individual situation
CAS London: average stay = 6 months to 1 year
50% returned home within 3 months
(“Foster Care”, 2011)
(“Foster Care”, 2011)

(“Foster Care”, 2011)

(“Foster Care”, 2011;
“The Children’s Aid..”, n.d.)
(“Foster Care”, 2011; “The Children’s Aid..”, n.d.)
(“Foster Care”, 2011; Pearce, 2012;
“The Children’s Aid..”, n.d.)
Foster Parents
Potential foster parents are screened, trained, and approved using standardized tools that are required by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services
CAS is required to preform routine visits, develop mandatory plans, and provide updates on the child’s care
Provided with monetary compensation until the child is 18
Training by the Ontario Child Welfare Training System
1) Orientation/pre-service: information on foster care policies (roles and responsibilities)
2) Core/in-service: training for those who have been processed through the approval process (may already have a child placed in their home)
training in particular areas is based on identified need (ex. mental and physical health, education, early child development, etc.)

(“Foster Care”, 2011; “The Children’s Aid..”, n.d.)
London CAS
1) Application package
2 ) PRIDE (parent resources for information, development, and education)
9 sessions (27 hours): week 1-8 meet with other families interested in fostering, week 9 meet with families who have already fostered
3) Home study
self assessment of potential parent’s attitudes and abilities
character references
medical, police record, and child welfare checks
assess safety of the home
review of PRIDE homework, personal history employment record and experience with children
4) Ongoing training and support for foster families (visits from CAS, foster parent mentor, foster care support program)

(“Foster Care”, 2011; “The Children’s Aid..”, n.d.)
United Nations Guidelines for Alternative Care of Children
- set out by OASCAS Ontario Youth Communication Advocacy Network to
unify the voice of youth in care in Ontario
- dedicated to impacting Ontario’s child welfare system so youth in care can feel empowered and secure
Four goals:
1) advocate on behalf of youth in care

2) communicate information to CAS and youth in care in a timely manner

3) increase youths in care input into policy, programs and activities that involve them

4) be a resource to CASs and youth organization with a Youth in Care mandate
(“YouthCAN, n.d.)

(“YouthCAN, n.d.)

Part II General Principles and Perspectives
The child and the Family
Section 6: “...They should respect fully the child’s right to be consulted and to have his/her views duly taken into account in accordance with his/her evolving capacities, and on the basis of his/her access to all necessary information. Every effort should be made to enable such consultation and information provision to be carried out in the child’s preferred language.”
United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child
Section 6bis “...The determination process should take into account of the right of the child to be heard and to have his/her views taken into account in accordance with his/her age and maturity.”
Part VII Provision of Alternative Care
Legal Responsibility for the Child
Section 103 B. “Ensuring that the child has access to legal and other representation where necessary, consulting with the child so that the child’s views are taken into account by decision-making authorities, and advising and keeping the child informed of his or her rights;”

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.

Article 12
Article 13:
Article 20:
1. A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.

2. States Parties shall in accordance with their national laws ensure alternative care for such a child.

3. Such care could include, inter alia, foster placement, kafalah of Islamic law, adoption or if necessary placement in suitable institutions for the care of children. When considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.

The Ontario Child and Family Services Act
Child Matters Project
February 2010
Aim: improve the experience of youth in care by strengthening foster parent recruitment, and training practices
(“Projects”, n.d.)
Four Goals
1) Provide information for the development of a Foster Parent Resource Kit, recruitment and retention policies, strategies and project monitoring and evaluation
2) Improve the quality of life and the future outcomes for children growing up in foster care
3) Increase the availability and access to foster care through expanding foster care treatment
4) Improve the quality of training and support available for foster parents

(“Projects”, n.d.)
Youth Leaving Care
Overrepresented in youth justice, mental health and shelter systems
After 18 years old no longer in care of the system
can apply for extended payments until 21 ($830/month)
44% in care graduate high school (compared to 81% of their peers)
43% of homeless youth were once involved in the child welfare system
Irwin Elman's Study
Ontario’s provincial advocate for children and youth, Irwin Elman, conducted a research report of youth leaving care

Results: $26 million that would be spent on extending care to 25 years of age would be regained through reduced jail and social assistance costs
- increase tax revenue because youth would get better education and jobs
- in 40 years the return would be $132 million
(Pearce, 2012; Monsebraaten, 2012)
(Pearce, 2012; Monsebraaten, 2012)
My REAL life book
Written testimonials of youth who are currently in foster care of have just left
Major themes
1) Feelings of vulnerability

2) Feelings of isolation

3) Distaste with being left out of decision making about their lives

4) Unpredictability of foster care arrangements

5) The struggle when care ends

6) Lack of meaningful adult relationship to carry into adulthood
(Monsebraaten, 2012)
Complaints of Youth in Care
CAS representative must respond to inquiries/complaints against foster parents within a 24 hour time frame and investigate within 5 working days
Foster parent must be informed of the investigation outcome 5 days after the investigation
Children over 12 may object to a specific placement and is entitled to a review by the Residential Placement Advisory Committee (in certain circumstances)

Questions for Discussion
1) How is a child supposed to reach someone
to file a complaint? Who does the child
contact to do this?
2) What are the “certain circumstances”
necessary for a review to take place?
3) How does the committee decide whether the complaint is
4) What about children under 12 years old? Does their voice
not matter?
5) Does any child’s voice really matter in this situation?

(Monsebraaten, 2012)
- giving a voice to youth is particular important for youth in care
- the ones receiving several public funded services
- focus of policies and a target for interventions
- foster care can further harm youth if systems are not sufficient
- youth rarely participate in policy planning or decision making in the past
- creation of policy forums for youth in care = move towards greater youth representation and voice

Rationale for giving young people greater voice
1) to ensure social justice (in addition to being nurtured and protected, youth have the right to be treated with respect, and listened to)
2) to support civic engagement (everyone should have opportunities to influence decision making in their community)
3) to promote positive youth development (socio-emotional development is of equal importance to cognitive development, and participation in public policy is thought to have developmental benefits for youth and society)

(Day, Reibschleger, Dworsky & Fogarty, 2012)
Major themes expressed from youth in foster care
stable, and permanent relationship with caring adults outside of school
connections with professionals at school who understand the unique
challenges faced by youth in foster care
need for teachers to be sensitive to individual student learning needs
lack of resources to address basic school related needs
lack of access to extracurricular activities
unsafe schools and environments
access to appropriate mental health services
lack of preparation and support for independent living
placement instability also a common reference

Article #2: Participation in decision-making in out-of-home care in Australia: What do young people say?
- In Australia, legislation and related policies developed over the past decade have identified children's right to participate/be consulted on decisions that affect their lives
- indications that children and young people in the out-of-home care system are excluded from decisions made about their lives
1) Do these young people feel they had the opportunity to participate in decisions made about their lives during their time in out-of-home care?
2) On which issues did they want to have a say?

(Bessell, 2011)
Society and Crown Wardship
Six levels of participation:
1) A child is consulted, but does not understand.
2) A child is given information without an opportunity to
express their views.
3) A child expresses their views, but does not take part in
the decision-making process.
4) A child takes part in decision making, but not in any
autonomous decisions.
5) A child makes autonomous decisions, but does not define
the problem.
6) A child defines the problem and makes the decision.
participation occurs at level 3 or higher, and must include that the child's participation has some affect on the actual decision made
Guidelines to follow when choosing a placement for a child:
A) Is least restrictive alternative for the child;

B) Where possible, respects the religious faith of the child;

C) Where possible, respects the child’s linguistic and cultural heritage;

D) Where the child is an Indian or native person, is with a member of the child’s extended family, a member of the child’s band or native community or another Indian or native family, if possible; and

E) Takes into account the child’s wishes, if they can be reasonably ascertained, and the wishes of any parent who is entitled to access to the child.

Participation is important in three ways:
1) participation has intrinsic value (dignity and self-worth)

2) participation is of instrumental value

3) participation is central to promoting the human rights of children

Do children and young people in out-of-home care feel they have a say?
- time in out-of-home carecharacterized by non-participation in decisions about their lives
- rarely consulted, and when consultation did occur felt their views were not valued or acted upon
- valued workers/care givers who listened to their views and and valued them
- ‘the system’ is unresponsive to youth
- rarely formed strong relationships
- given inadequate information about what was happening to them or why decisions were made
Part V: Children's Rights in Care
Legal Representation of the Child
What do they want?
- want to have a say, but not always on only issues related to foster care
- especially important: issues around placement in care, changes in placement and choice of workers
- should be an opportunity for the child to get to know the foster family before their placement occurs
- felt they were not properly included in decisions about whether or not they could keep contact and a relationship with her biological family and should have been
- strong desire to remain together with their siblings

- best interests of children and young people cannot be met unless their views are known and taken seriously
- the act of paying attention to the voice of children in youth and holding value to it is determined largely by bureaucratic procedures and availability of carers

Understanding young people's views on participation in decisions that affect their lives will assist in ensuring that participation is not just a bureaucratic requirement, but is
meaningful, transforming and empowering

States that a child “may have legal representation at any stage in a proceeding.” It is up to the court to review whether or not legal representation is the best way to protect the child’s interests in the proceeding. This can be done at any stage of the proceeding.

Section 38:
Children in foster care have the right to:
Speak, and visit with members of their family, their solicitor, a person representing, etc.
Private written communication that is not to be censored;
Reasonable privacy and possessions of their property;
Receive and participate in religious instructions and activities of their choice;
To participate in the development of their individual plan of care and any changes made to it;
Receive appropriate care such as, well balanced, nutritious meals, good appropriate; clothing, and regular medical and dental care;
Receive education;
To participate in recreational and athletic activities appropriate for their interest and abilities;
To be consulted and express their views based on the child’s age, maturity, and understanding. Such as medical treatment, education, training, work programs, religion, culture and discharge or transfer from placements.
To be informed (in appropriate language) of their rights, the internal complaint procedure, the provincial Advocates for children and youth, their responsibilities in care, rules governing day-to-day care, etc.

Mission Statement:
"The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth serves youth in state care and the margins of state care through individual, systemic and policy advocacy. The Office strives, at every level of its operation to be an exemplar of youth participation"
1. Empowerment for children and youth
2. Respect for the dignity of children and youth, and to their right to be heard.
3. The family as the primary source of nurturance, support and advocacy for children and youth.
4. Equality for all children and youth and the principle of respect for diversity.
5. The least adversarial approach to finding solutions.
6. The community's collective responsibility for providing resources and services
7. A system that is responsive to the needs of children, youth and their families.
8. Community outreach as an ongoing process

Recommendations from Youth leaving Care Hearings
6 Additional Recommendations
1. Raise the age for extended care and maintenance to 25
2. Allow youth to stay in care until they are properly prepared
3. Declare "Children and Youth in Care Day"
4. ensure that all children and youth in care have ongoing health and education services
5. commit to collecting and publishing information on how children and youth are doing in care
6. create online resources for children and youth from care
Defining the Foster Care System
Analysis of the System
Historical Background
Related Legislation
Advocacy Groups
Our Recommendations
Discussion Period

Orphans were sold to apprentices, worked in poor conditions
Harsh discipline values
Reforms in Great Britain to protect children that Canada adopted
JJ Kelso developed first Children's Aid Society
Child Protection Act
'60's Swoop'
Child and Family Services Act
To provide temporary care to children who, for many reasons, are not able to live with their biological families.
We have candy!
48.1% of children under the age of 14 are Aboriginal children!
Foster Parents
CAS Workers
Types of Foster Care
1) Regular foster care
2) Relief foster care
3) Kinship care
4) Customary care - by Aboriginal community
5) Specialized foster care
6) Treatment foster care
The Dursley's
What rights are being infringed upon Harry Potter while in the care of the Dursley's?
"Half the time  .  .  .  I don’t even remember their names  .  .  .  It just went so fast that I didn’t have a chance to get to know anybody and it was tough  .  .  .  they just saw me as a bad kid."
Anonymous, 12, Former Youth In Care
("The Office of the Provincial Advocates" 2009)
"Maybe just tell them what’s going on and stuff first... Like
you’re going to be taking them and just give them a brief
example of what’s going to be happening" (Female 10 years old)
("The Office of the Provincial Advocates" 2009)
("The Office of the Provincial Advocates" 2009)
("The Office of the Provincial Advocates" 2009)
"OHCRC" 1989
"UNICEF" 2009
"e-laws" 1990
“Christy just cared so much, it was awkward at first I thought this lady was weird I wasn’t use to someone caring about me, she would say you are great [...] so I though she is not weird, she really does care”
("The Office of the Provincial Advocates" 2009)
(Goltzman, Kollar, Trinkle, 2010)
Discussion Questions
Did any of this information shock you?
Out of the weaknesses we outlined, which would you say is the most important to address?
Is the training process for foster parents sufficient?
Should monetary compensation be raised passed 18 years of age? Is 25 too old?
Kinship families do not receive compensation? Do you agree or disagree?
Full transcript