AGING OUT WITHOUT A SAFETY NET
Approximately 30,000 children and youth in foster and group care in Canada are currently available for adoption; approximately half of those are girls/young women, and half of those are Indigenous and African-Canadian. The majority of these girls will age out of the child welfare system without a permanent family. Lacking a connection to a permanent family is the root cause of economic insecurity for young women aging out of the child welfare system in Canada, affecting their economic insecurity for the rest of their lives. Other barriers include homelessness, incarceration, visible and invisible dis(abilities), a lack of education, poverty, violence against women, human trafficking, teen parenting, addiction and mental health issues.
Our three-year project is intended to strengthen partnerships between organizations that work with young women who age out of the child welfare system in the areas of housing, justice, mental health, addictions, trafficking, education and maternal health and to encourage them to share solutions and best practices, with each other and with policy-makers. The ACC will conduct focus groups with young women who have aged out of the child welfare system in Iqaluit, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. The focus groups will include members of the ACC’s Youth Speak Out groups, and will also include any young women identified by partner agencies. Our partner agencies include but are not limited to: Youth In Care Canada, the Elizabeth Fry Society, The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, A Way Home, The Homeless Hub, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Covenant House.
In Spring 2021, the ACC will hold a Symposium with provincial/territorial and federal policy makers, national partners, and young women who have aged out of care to review progress to date on identifying barriers, and to share best practices of policies that support these young women, and to identify ways to collaborate on future policy development to ameliorate system barriers.
The Adoption Council of Canada sees a strong connection between the number of young women that we fail to find permanent families for while they are in the child welfare system, and the problems they experience when they age out of are and into economic security. This project will track that connection, and we hope to use our finding to make recommendations that will dismantle these barriers. If you wish to contribute to this project please contact Alisha Bowie, Aging Out Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org