Youth will have say in coroner's review of group and foster home safety

February 7, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Young people will play a key role in determining how to prevent more youths from dying while in the care of group homes and foster homes.
Ontario's chief coroner, Dirk Huyer, is putting together a team of up to 10 youths with experience in the child protection and mental health systems to inform a panel of experts probing the deaths of 11 young people in residential care over the past three years.
At least half of the youths will come from Indigenous communities in northwestern Ontario, he said.
"Hearing from young people just makes good sense," said Huyer, who will be accepting youth participants recruited by First Nations and the Ontario Child Advocate's office. "For me it is a valuable information source."
The provincial child advocate, Irwin Elman, applauded the participation of youth in the review, noting their voices are vital to any serious reform of the child protection system.
"There is wisdom that comes with their lived experience," he said.
While supportive of the review, Elman and Indigenous leaders continue to call for a full inquest into the deaths. They say a formal inquest is a more open and transparent way to focus on needed changes.
"The jury is out to see how this (review) will help and honour the children," he said. Huyer doesn't rule out holding an inquest in the future.
One of the youths whose time in care is being investigated is Kassy Finbow. She died along with her caregiver in a group home fire last February near Lindsay, Ont. The group home resident who set the fire has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will be sentenced on Feb. 13.

"I did speak to the coroner's office and my daughter is the 11th child (being reviewed)," said Kassy’s mother, Chantal Finbow, in an email.

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