New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness

Posted
August 9, 2017
Article Source
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)

A first-of-its-kind study in Canada is drawing a link between youth homelessness levels and a foster care system that researchers say could be playing a more active role in keeping young people off the streets.

The study, to be released Wednesday, found nearly three out of every five homeless youth were part of the child welfare system at some point in their lives.

That is a rate almost 200 times greater than that of the general population.

Of those with a history in the child welfare system, almost two of every five respondents eventually "aged out" of provincial or territorial care, losing access to the sort of support that could have kept them from becoming homeless, the study found.

Canada is creating a group of young people who are at higher risk of becoming homeless because they lack resources when coming out of foster care, said Stephen Gaetz, the study's co-author and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

The report urges the federal government to focus on preventing youth homelessness – particularly among Indigenous youth – and provinces and territories to focus on "after care" by providing support as needed until age 25.

"We're not calling out child protection services. We're not pointing fingers going, 'It's horrible what you're doing,'" Gaetz said.

"Rather, we're saying this is an unintended consequence of a whole number of things, but it's something that we can identify as leading to bad outcomes when young people leave care."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government's self-proclaimed minister for youth, may want to champion the issue himself to ensure system-wide changes, he added.

The study, based on a survey of 1,103 young people who were experiencing homelessness in 42 different communities in nine provinces and Nunavut, offers the first national portrait of Canada's population of homeless youth.

Read more: New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness