Ontario Supporting Enhanced Immigration Services for Children and Youth in Care
PEEL REGION — The Ontario government is providing $200,000 to Peel Children's Aid Society to enhance its Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence program. The program, the first of its kind in Canada, helps children's aid societies across the province address immigration status issues, such as outstanding applications for legal status of children and youth in care. Helping youth resolve these issues improves their access to basic social services such as health care and education. "Kids should focus on being kids, not on their immigration status," said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. "As part of our government's redesign of the child welfare system, we are expanding successful projects such as this Centre of Excellence so that children, youth and families, as well as communities, can move past these issues and focus on developing more positive futures." Unresolved immigration issues can make it more difficult for societies to find loving adoptive homes for children and youth. Youth aging out of care can face barriers to accessing social services, health care, legal services, housing, post-secondary education and employment opportunities. This can cause additional stress to children, youth and families who are interacting with Ontario's child welfare system. The Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence collaborates with Ontario children's aid societies to help manage complex immigration cases. It also helps children and youth in care file citizenship and immigration documents, connects them with legal representation and facilitates referrals to community resources. This can result in an early and rapid resolution of immigration status issues and improve opportunities to access basic services. "Children involved with child welfare who have unresolved status issues face unique challenges," said Rav Bains, Chief Executive Officer of Peel Children's Aid Society. "Through the Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence, we have been able to assist many children and families. We are thankful for the recognition and support from the government and we will continue to provide early help to our community's most vulnerable population, not just in Peel Region, but across Ontario." The investment in the Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence is a part of Ontario's plan under the new child welfare redesign strategy to strengthen supports for children, youth, families and communities, and create a more efficient and sustainable child welfare system.
The Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence is a partnership between Peel Children’s Aid Society and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. In 2018-19, the Centre responded to 2,185 queries about child welfare and immigration.
Peel Children’s Aid serves more than 11,000 families in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon in 2018.
Ontario’s child welfare redesign strategy centres around five key pillars: supporting child, youth, family and community well-being; improving quality of care; strengthening youth supports; improving stability and permanency; and increasing system accountability and sustainability.