Posted on Mar 30, 2020
NDP CALLS FOR UCP TO ISSUE MORATORIUM ON CHILDREN AGING OUT OF CARE
EDMONTON - The NDP Official Opposition is calling on the UCP to issue an immediate moratorium on children aging out of care during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure they will not lose access to supports at this critical time.
In a letter sent to Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz today, Children’s Services Critic Rakhi Pancholi expresses her concerns regarding the decision of the Ministry to lower the age of eligibility of former children in care to access Support and Financial Assistance Agreements from 24 to 22.
This change, which is intended to come into effect on April 1, 2020, will have a significant detrimental effect on these already vulnerable young people. These concerns are echoed by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and Alberta social workers.
On March 19, 2020, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench also agreed that this change could result in “social, financial and psychological harm” to these former children in care and as a result, granted an interim injunction against the change.
“This is an extremely challenging time for Albertans, many of whom will struggle to pay the bills if they are unable to work due to the virus,” Pancholi said. “This reality will be amplified in our most vulnerable populations, which includes current and former children in care. Many of these young people are working to manage traumatic pasts, mental health challenges and addictions and many are themselves single parents of young children.”
Last week, the Government of Ontario announced a moratorium on aging out of care and filed a regulation “to ensure that throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, no youth in care or former youth in care in Ontario will age out of the supports and services they are currently receiving through children’s aid societies”.
A moratorium in Alberta will ensure:
- Limited staff resources can be focused on emerging issues;
- Youth aging out of care will not have to worry that new supports may be negatively affected by the pandemic;
- These youth will not have to transition to a new reality in the midst of the outbreak;
- And that these youth will be less likely to require emergency supports and housing.
“This is a common-sense approach to protecting this vulnerable population and can be done with a limited amount of work – as was demonstrated by the rapid response to the concern in Ontario,” Pancholi said.