Ontario raises age of protection to 18
As of January 1, 2018, the increase in the Age of Protection for 16 and 17 years olds comes into effect. The Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (CYFSA) will govern a range of service sectors in addition to child welfare, including youth justice and residential services. Some of these amendments will include: a legislative framework for information access and privacy, recognition of extra provincial protection orders, personal liability coverage for Board Governors, supports for older youth and increasing the age of protection to include 16 and 17 year olds.
The new directive aims to support the delivery of child protection services for 16- and 17-year-old youth in need of protection. By increasing the age of protection to include all children under the age of 18 years, 16- and 17-year-olds who are in need of protection will be eligible for the full range of child protection services. The goal is to ensure youth have the support in place to reach their full potential, and ensuring better outcomes as they transition to adulthood.
Briefly, some of the key changes include:
- The full range of child protection services will be provided to 16- and 17-year-olds up to their 18th birthday;
- A new voluntary agreement will be available for youth who are 16- and 17-years-old who require out of home placement (referred to as Voluntary Youth Services Agreement (VYSA) in the policy directive); and
- Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) will be provided for youth where a VYSA expires at the time of their 18th birthday.
Beneath it all, the access to the full range of protection services for 16 and 17 year olds will be guided by the following principles:
Youth-Centered Protection Service: Youth receiving service may have experienced traumatic events or circumstances. CASs will actively engage the youth in decision making, assist the youth to build-up on their strengths and address protection issues that are impacting them. Wherever possible, service will support youth to make decisions that help minimize risk and promote their best interests, protection and well-being.
Least Disruptive Approach: Youth are often best supported within their families, extended families and communities. Service will favour the least disruptive course of action to protect the youth, where appropriate. Service will promote involvement of families, extended families and communities in decision making about youth’s safety and well-being.
Permanency: Youth who are 16 and 17 years old are beginning the transition to independence and CASs will engage them to identify their permanency goals. Service will support the youth in identifying and developing permanent relationships that are meaningful and beneficial to the youth and incorporate broad definitions of family, extended family, kin and community.
Connection to Kin, Community & Culture: Maintaining connection to kin, community and culture are closely connected to permanency planning and positive outcomes for youth. Youth will have access to culturally appropriate services.
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