November 18, 2014

Statement to the Legislature

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Adoption Awareness Month

Mr. Speaker, November is Adoption Awareness Month and our government - along with its partners in the child welfare sector - are working hard to increase the number of Crown wards living in permanent homes.

In the past year, there have been almost 1000 public and private adoptions in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, we know that children and youth who grow up in permanent homes are more likely to be healthy, graduate from high school, hold a job and contribute to their communities.

We also know that children’s aid societies (CASs) often face more challenges when placing older Crown wards and siblings in permanent homes.

That is why our government introduced financial subsidies to eligible parents who adopt or take legal custody of Crown wards 10 years of age and over. The Ontario government also provides subsidies when Crown ward siblings of any age are adopted, as we know the challenges that can exist when siblings are separated.

Adopting an older child or a sibling group is a significant responsibility – and one that comes with added costs. These subsidies go a long way to supporting families to care for these young people– allowing them to meet the child’s needs without creating undue financial hardship.

In addition to these financial supports, our government is proud of the other accomplishments we’ve made in adoption, Mr. Speaker.

Among them, the Building Families and Supporting Youth To Be Successful Act, 2011, removed legal barriers so more kids in the care of CASs can be adopted.

We continue to fund the Adoption Council of Ontario to manage the AdoptOntario program, a website that helps match children available for adoption with prospective adoptive parents.

And, with the help of the child welfare sector, we have more than doubled the number of Adoption Resource Exchanges held each year. These are forums that help match potential adoptive families with children needing adoption.

I was happy to give opening remarks at the most recent Adoption Resource Exchange which took place on November 15. The event was a great success and I commend the hard-working people who helped make it possible.

Mr. Speaker, we are also committed to improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and youth. We know that it is critical for Aboriginal children and youth to remain connected to their communities, cultures and traditions.

That is why in April 2013, this government released a formal customary care practice guide to help support culturally appropriate placements for First Nation children and youth receiving child welfare services.

Training sessions on the guide were delivered to CASs and First Nations stakeholders across the province to support the use of formal customary care.

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to improving the lives of all children in Ontario, including those living in care.

While I am proud of the progress we have made to support children and youth in care in finding permanent homes, there is more work ahead of us.

With the ongoing support of our wonderful partners in the child welfare sector, we can – and we will – do even more to bring families together and help children and youth in care reach their full potential.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.