Implications for Recommendations

Greater communication and coordination across sectors and levels of service would likely result in fewer moves and disruptions in care for children and youth, and perhaps even fewer young people entering residential care. Mental health, behavioural, and crisis services should wrap around the young person and support that person where they are living. The young person should not be forced to move simply because additional supports are unavailable to help them in their current living situation.

Young people and their families must have ongoing opportunities to provide feedback on their service experience, in particular their experience transitioning within sectors, between sectors, and out of residential care altogether. This feedback must be collected in such a way that children, youth and families are assured that their responses will be kept confidential and that no negative consequences will occur if they express dissatisfaction with any aspect of their residential service experience. This will represent one mechanism for integrating the voices of young people and families into the residential service system.

Charged with caring for children and youth when they cannot live at home, the province has a responsibility to not only track basic information about the residential services provided throughout their development but also to collect detailed information on outcomes for children and youth at various points in time (see Chapter 5, Data and Chapter 10, Indicators).

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services can learn a great deal from the OEN experience. MCYS must move toward assigning a unique identifier to all children and youth that is shared across residential services (children and youth mental health, child welfare, youth justice, and complex special needs). This unique identifier could also follow children and youth through the non-residential services they receive. Although this will likely take time and effort to implement in a way that addresses the obvious privacy concerns, the benefits outweigh the risks and it would be a missed opportunity not to explore the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ experience.

There is great potential for CPIN to promote cross-sector information sharing and tracking. MCYS could create a module in CPIN that would allow for a limited amount of information to be shared with and accessed by youth justice, children and youth mental health and complex special needs services, while still maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of information in other modules of the system.

It is critical that MCYS develops a method of systematically tracking the movement of children and youth in care within and across residential service sectors. This is consistent with the recommendation from My REAL Life Book: Report from the Youth Leaving Care Hearings (2012), which recommended that the government should develop a computerized tracking system to monitor movement of youth across residential service sectors. This report further recommended that a single case manager should be assigned to follow each child from point of entry into the system to discharge. This is in line with the spirit of our recommendation for a Reviewer position to be part of the Quality of Residential Care Branch/Division.

It is important that service providers work with young people in residential care to champion their voice and the voices of their families and direct care providers, and also to fully understand the entirety of their service history and mindfully coordinate with others in order to facilitate smooth transitions beyond any particular service.

Ministry initiatives to support transition-aged youth (for example Youth-in-Transition workers, Continued Care and Support for Youth program, Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent, postsecondary education supports, and extended health and dental benefits for youth age 21 to 24) are steps in the right direction. The province needs to take responsibility for helping young people who have been in their care to successfully transition to adulthood.