Former youth in care Melanie Doucet makes four recommendations in this article published on Policy Options, “Putting the care back into foster care,” about how we can step up for youth in and aging out of care.
First, let’s truly listen to what youth in care have to say about the supporting adults in their lives. Let’s make those connections, support them and nurture them, so that youth can find permanent homes and establish caring relationships that will last beyond their time in the system. Let’s engage youth in and from care as viable contributors to social policy.
Second, let’s abandon our insistence that youth in care master independent living at the age of majority – a standard that we seldom hold the rest of our children to – and instead help establish and nurture lasting and caring relationships and support networks that all young people need.
Third, let’s break down walls between governments, academia, advocates, front-line workers and communities, and start working together toward a common goal: improving the lives of youth in care. Let’s learn from what is going well and not so well in jurisdictions across the country.
And finally, let’s engage the public through volunteer programs, campaigns and dialogue opportunities. Too many people are unaware of the issues facing youth who will soon age out of foster care. At the same time, when presented with information, Canadians are largely supportive of extended care.