Children and Youth in Care Day 2018
Last month, Elon Musk said “Humans are underrated”, announcing his plans to go back to using human workers after robots slowed the Tesla factory down. The fact is, as our society is becoming more and more automated we are seeing the gaps where technology is not able to replicate what a good old fashioned human can do. YouTube announced in April that they were adding a feature that allowed parents to disable the algorithm based controls that restricted content for kids so that parents could hand-pick content instead. They had found that too many errors and inappropriate material were getting through the service they offered and that the only way to truly protect kids was having humans do the work.
When a young person in extended society care (formally called a Crown Ward) turns 18 and receives their Termination of Support letter they are also given a list of services and agencies that they can use to help them navigate the transition to independent living. We now know that it is unreasonable to expect 18 year olds (or 21 year olds in some cases) to figure out the complicated world of adulthood which can include organizing housing, exploring educational opportunities, securing a job, figuring out how to budget, dealing with health issues, etc, etc.
We have solved this problem by developing a multitude of programs and services, some very excellent programs and services, to support these youth. We continue to add more and more programming and financial supports as we continue to see at least 1000 young people aging out of the children welfare system in Ontario every year.
Unfortunately we are not seeing a big change in the outcomes for these youth which include very high levels of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, etc. Hopefully, the people who are paying for these excellent services will soon come to the same realization Mr. Musk and YouTube has—that humans are the most essential part of the equation. Humans, in this case, does NOT refer to the hard working and dedicated front line workers who time and time again provide our young people with the support network they need and deserve.
Would it be good enough for your own children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren to only have people who are paid to be there to be their main support network? When we start investing as much time and money into finding families for youth, both before they age out of care AND after they do as well as supporting these families throughout their journey, we will be fulfilling the promise we made when we removed them permanently from their family of origin—that we would find humans who would be capable of giving them the safety and unconditional support they would need for a lifetime.
Scholarships allow young people to attend University. Families ensure that you have somewhere to go at holidays when residence closes, someone to call and complain to when the exam was too hard, someone to celebrate with when you get the A on a paper and someone there cheering when you graduate.
On May 14th, we take time to shine a light on this most vulnerable group of young people in our province. Let’s jump on this new bandwagon recognizing that it is still the human element that makes the difference between surviving and thriving—what we want for ALL young people in our province.
Aviva Zukerman Schure - Manager, NTL
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