Ontario Connecting Youth Leaving Care with Supports to Succeed
OTTAWA — The Ontario government is investing $68 million in a new program that connects youth in the child welfare system with additional services and supports they need to prepare for and succeed after leaving care. The Ready, Set, Go program, launching on April 1, 2023, will provide youth transitioning out of care with life skills and supports they need to pursue post secondary education, skilled trades training and employment opportunities.
“Children and youth in the child welfare system face additional barriers throughout their lives,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Our government is enhancing the way youth leaving care are supported so they can access the same opportunities as their peers. The Ready, Set, Go program will help youth get the skills they need to build a brighter future for themselves.”
Under the new program, children’s aid societies will begin focusing on helping children plan for the future at an earlier age. Starting at age 13, they will begin learning practical life skills and planning educational goals. At age 15, the emphasis will expand to financial literacy and preparing for the workforce, including managing personal finances, setting up a bank account, grocery shopping, resumé building, and how to access social services and other supports.
The Ready, Set, Go program will also allow youth to remain in care until the age of 23, up from age 21. Monthly financial support will also increase to provide youth better quality of life and safer housing opportunities so they can focus on their studies or working.
Funding is increasing from $850 per month to:
Age 18 - $1,800
Age 19 - $1,500
Age 20 - $1,000
Youth who will remain in care at age 21 will now receive $1,000 per month. Youth in care at age 22 will receive $500 per month. Youth will also be able to work up to 40 hours per week at Ontario’s minimum wage without affecting their financial supports. Those pursuing a post-secondary program or training in skilled trades and apprenticeships, will receive an additional $500 per month starting at age 20.
The Ready, Set, Go program was developed with input and advice from former youth in care, child welfare advocates, partners and is informed by research. These changes are part of Ontario’s plan to transform the child welfare system and hold children’s aid societies accountable to better prepare youth leaving care.
The ministry is seeking further feedback and advice from sector partners and the public on the new Ready, Set, Go program through a posting on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry. The regulatory posting will be open until March 1, 2023.
About 12,000 children and youth are in the care of children’s aid societies in Ontario.
Children and youth leaving the child welfare system are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes, such as homelessness, mental health concerns, unemployment, lack of education and involvement in the justice system.
Currently, youth transitioning from care are provided with financial and non-financial supports up to their 21st birthday through the Continued Care and Support for Youth program. Youth leaving care also have access to the Youth-in-Transition Workers program, the Aftercare Benefits Initiative, the Postsecondary Application Fee Reimbursement program and the Living and Learning Grant.
While Ontario has been developing the new youth leaving care policy and program, the province has extended a moratorium on youth aging out of their care arrangements with children’s aid societies to March 31, 2023.
"We commend the Ontario government today for taking steps to ensure youth feel confident and supported as they leave care. Through this investment and new framework, more youth across the province will have access to the resources and tools they need to transition successfully to adulthood."
- Nicole Bonnie CEO, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
"For youth from care who continue to face disproportionate adverse risk and challenges, this framework will help in mitigating some of those complex barriers. The Child Welfare PAC enthusiastically supports a data driven system coupled with a better resourced, graduated introduction to independence that will create multiple pathways to brighter futures and improved outcomes for our most vulnerable youth."
- Ingrid Palmer Child Welfare Political Action Committee
"The Ready, Set, Go program is an important step that the Ontario Government is taking to help youth leaving foster care secure safer housing in their communities. We know that youth who don’t have access to stable housing are at a much higher risk of human trafficking, and by helping youth have a safe place to live it will reduce the likelihood that they will become victims of human trafficking or face exploitation."
- Carly Kalish Executive Director, Victim Services Toronto "The Ready, Set, Go program is a great start to support the transition from being a youth in care to becoming a young adult. By offering an opportunity of gradual independence as well as softening the abrupt effects of being ejected from the foster system, youth are going to be better prepared to enter adulthood."
- Dr. Rebekah Jacques Sixties Scoop Survivor
"When you have a career in the skilled trades, you have a career for life. The Ready, Set, Go program will give our young people leaving care a hand up to well-paying, in-demand jobs with pensions and benefits. We’re giving them the training they need to lead purpose-driven lives in the skilled trades as leaders in their community, building a stronger Ontario for all of us."
- Monte McNaughton Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
"This is another step by our government to ensure Ontario children and youth are set up for success and can reach their full potential. This investment will help support youth in care to graduate from high school and to develop the necessary life skills and job skills leading to rewarding careers they can flourish in, including pathways to the skilled trades, entrepreneurship and postsecondary education."
- Stephen Lecce Minister of Education
"Our government is taking a targeted approach and supporting those that need it the most. We are supporting youth in care from the ages of 13-23 to prepare for when they exit care by helping them learn how to manage personal finances at a young age and providing supports for education and skills training."
- Peter Bethlenfalvy Minister of Finance
"It’s important for young people to have the right supports that will set them up for success. Through the new Ready, Set, Go program, we are better supporting children and youth in the child welfare system by empowering them to build the lives they want to lead and embrace their futures."
- Charmaine A. Williams Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity
Learn more about the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.