Youth minister says detention centres are not for foster kids

A question was recently proposed by a government review panel that has the pubic in an uproar: Can we use vacant juvenile detention centres — where youth offenders are normally housed — to house children from the state foster care system? The idea was briefly put out there as a suggestion by a government review panel as a way to make use of underutilized property assets, i.e., housing facilities that are vacant due to the declining population of state juvenile detention centres.

The suggestion was originally conceived as Toronto officials review the residential services it gives to youth under the state foster care system. The three-person panel of reviewers asked for feedback from nations around the world on different points, including the idea of housing foster kids in juvenile detention centres. As a spokesperson from the ministry noted, there are fewer youths in state detention centres now than in 2003, and the figure has dropped by nearly 80 percent; therefore, the space is available to be used for some purpose.

The vacant facilities in question were classified as group homes that detain youths serving time for criminal activities, but the youths have the ability to come and go while under supervision. Recently, however, the Minister of Child and Youth Services assured the public that these homes will never be used for foster kids; however, they might still be be shut down, remodeled and repurposed for something els.

The minister further assured the public that the suggestion to house foster care children in juvenile detention centre facilities is not, at this time, being considered. In fact, he says that it was never on the table, as it could be stigmatizing for the children.

Foster care parents participating in this state program who want to adopt a foster child may be able to do so. By employing the services of a Toronto family lawyer, this process is likely to be smoother, faster and much easier than it would be otherwise.

Source: The Hamilton Spectator, “No Ontario kids in foster care will be housed in detention centres, minister says,” Jesse Winter, Sep. 08, 2016

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