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Family, Child, Youth Services Act raises age of protected children

January 18, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

The Ontario government recently passed the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA), which Dufferin’s child protection agency says creates more accountable, responsive and accessible child and youth services.

The act, which came into effect at the beginning of the year, has risen the age of protection of youth against various forms of abuse, from 16 to 18.

According to the Ontario government’s website, the act will be “Strengthening the focus on early intervention, helping prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home.”

The act will also provide “oversight of service providers, including children’s aid societies,” so that children and youth “receive consistent, high-quality services.”

Jennifer Moore, executive director for Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) spoke to the Citizen regarding the changes.

“We are pleased the changes to the legislation offers protection to 16- and 17-year-olds in Ontario, bringing us in line with all other provinces in Canada,” said Ms. Moore. “This is a very important change and clear statement of support for this age group.”

She said the provincial membership organization, Ontario’s Association of Children’s Aid Societies, has “lobbied the government on behalf of the child welfare sector for this change for many years.”

The 16- and 17-year-olds will now be eligible for the full range of child protection services, which will give them a better opportunity to get the support they need.

The services will also be more culturally appropriate for all children and youth, “including Indigenous and black children, to ensure they receive the best possible support.”

Ms. Moore said they are currently assessing what the impact will be in Dufferin County, and are working with community partners who provide services to 16- and 17-year-olds, “to ensure we have a collaborative approach to service delivery.”

She explained this collaboration is due to the agency not having received “any substantial additional resources to help us with providing service to this age group, nor do we have new or additional resources in terms of foster homes or other placements.”

Ms. Moore said this would greatly benefit youth because they will have options in terms of receiving support.

“It is important for youth and the broader community to understand that our work with this age group is on a voluntary basis.”

         

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