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Implications for Recommendations

Significant leadership is required in order to create fundamental change in child and youth residential services across sectors and across the province. Notwithstanding efforts on the part of some service providers to become more responsive to the needs of young people in unique contexts, the overall level of competence and activity in this context is insufficient, uncoordinated, generally ad hoc, and therefore unsustainable and unlikely to create change. Consistent with Ontario’s commitment to social justice and egalitarian values, there is an imperative to address the needs and experiences of these young people.

There is a need to enhance the cultural competence of all residential services in relation to the diverse identities and developmental contexts of young people, in partnership with young people themselves. The development of measurable indicators in conjunction with the enhancement of cultural competence will work to ensure visible progress in this area.

The Panel is concerned about the challenges related to moving between residential services and non-residential supports, programs and preventative interventions in the specific contexts of young people focused on their gender, racial, or ethnic cultural identities.

The residential services system must ensure the protection and maintenance of the rights and well-being of all young people, and specifically those who are identified as having complex special needs. The voice of young people with complex special needs must inform the provision of these services.

Co-ordinated approaches to respond to emerging issues, such as the sex trades, are required. This will require a significant focus on capacity-building mechanisms to enhance inter-sector collaboration and rapid response to issues and trends that put extremely vulnerable young people at imminent risk of harm.

Currently, there does not appear to be sufficient demographic data on the self-reported identity of young people living in residential care to meaningfully plan around the needs of particular cultural, racialized or other groups, or the emergence of new groups based on demographic changes (eg: Muslim youth). In partnership with the relevant community, consideration must be given to develop capacity for data collection and reporting in a transparent manner on the number of young people impacted within specific groups.