November 1, 2017

Statement from the Minister of Children and Youth Services on Adoption Awareness Month

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the Legislature today because November is Adoption Awareness Month, when we highlight the importance of helping more children find safe, loving and permanent homes.

Mr. Speaker, adoption can provide a lifetime of benefits for children. It can be a major contributor to a child’s health, well-being, and potential for success. As Minister of Children and Youth Services, I’m committed to working to find adoptive families for children in care to give them the benefit of a stable, loving home, so they have every opportunity to thrive as children and to grow into happy and successful adults.

Mr. Speaker, a stable and nurturing family environment means so much to all of us, which is why our government has supported permanency, adoption and stability in various ways over recent years. We continue to help more children and youth find permanent homes, we help adoptive families succeed with post-adoption supports, and we reduce financial barriers for families who want to adopt.

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of my ministry’s funding of the AdoptOntario program, which is delivered by our partner, the Adoption Council of Ontario. AdoptOntario works with all Ontario children’s aid societies and private adoption professionals to recruit families for children in care who need a family through adoption. This successful program has helped over 900 children connect with a family over the past 10 years by providing education, guidance and support to adoptive families who are waiting for a child

We’ve also been funding the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to hire Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiters. This program finds permanent homes for harder-to-place children, including older children, sibling groups and youth with special needs.

We know adoption is a lifelong journey for families, which is why my ministry provides targeted financial supports to reduce financial barriers for families who want to adopt youth in care.

We’ve worked with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to extend the Living and Learning Grant. Through this grant, students can get $500 per month to help pay for expenses while they’re in college or university.

And we’ve extended drug and dental benefits to adopted youth between the ages of 18 and 24.

Mr. Speaker, we’re proud of two programs that help Ontario’s adoptive parents with challenges that might emerge post-adoption.

Through the Pathways to Permanence 2 program delivered by the Adoption Council of Ontario, parents who adopt through children's aid societies can receive specialized training to respond to the particular challenges their children may face as a result of early trauma, loss, deprivation, maltreatment or multiple placements.

Since the funding started in 2016, 500 parents in 25 communities have received the Pathways training. Just one year after launching the program, we’ve heard heartwarming reports that adoptive families are finding it valuable. Many families have stayed connected after the program ends, becoming part of volunteer, parent-led support groups that welcome new adoptive families into their community.

We’ve also heard moving accounts from parents who’ve accessed this important service. One parent told us: “The Pathways training gave me the tools to understand my child. There were times when I felt no one understood. This training, and meeting other parents, has let me see I am not alone. I now feel empowered. I feel I can do this.”

Mr. Speaker, it’s hard not to feel moved by testimony like this.

We’re also working with Adopt4Life to expand their Parent2Parent Support Network, so more adoptive families can access to peer-to-peer supports, including mentorship and parent resources.

I’m pleased to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we’ve also received positive feedback about this post-adoption support. Adoptive parents say that directly connecting with each other to talk about experiences, and to share lessons learned, is an enriching and helpful tool. One parent told us: “My Adopt4Life parent liaison connected me with resources I didn't know existed. She also connected me with other parents. Together, we share, support and connect each other in ways that only those on this journey can do.”

Mr. Speaker, there are over 5,000 children and youth in the care of a children’s aid society who are currently eligible for adoption in Ontario. Approximately 800 children and youth were adopted last year. In the last decade, almost 9,000 children and youth in care have been adopted in Ontario. As Minister of Children and Youth Services, I am so proud that my government supports the children and youth who need it most, so they can thrive and reach their full potential.

Let’s celebrate all our efforts and programs this November as we continue our work with adoptive families, children’s aid societies, Indigenous child well-being societies, and partners like the Adoption Council of Ontario and Adopt4Life.

Mr. Speaker, we will continue working toward our goal: to help all children and youth reach their full potential in life, starting in a loving and permanent home.

Thank you,

The Honourable Michael Coteau
Minister of Children and Youth Services