Ontario pledges $24M for adoptive families, including an education grant

TheStar.com – News/Canada – The government says the “living and learning grants” will give more adopted youth the chance to pursue higher education by providing $500 a month.
Oct. 31, 2016.   By The Canadian Press

Ontario is promising $24 million in increased supports for adoptive families, including a new grant program to help cover the costs of college or university for adopted children.

The government says the “living and learning grants” will give more adopted youth the chance to pursue higher education by providing $500 a month if they are a full-time post-secondary student.

There is also one-time financial assistance of up to $5,000 for First Nations families that adopt an indigenous child who is in need of protection under what is known as a customary care placement.

Other financial help for families adopting Crown wards includes drug and dental benefits, mentorship and parent resources, and specialized training for parents who adopt through children’s aid societies.

The government says 15 new recruiters will be hired to connect more of the 5,800 Crown wards in Ontario with adoptive families, and to develop plans specific to each child’s needs.

Most Crown wards live in foster or group homes because they’ve been abused or neglected, or because their family situation could have placed them at risk.

About 1,000 are adopted into permanent homes in Ontario each year.

“Expanding support to include Ontario’s adopted Crown wards and youth leaving care as they pursue their education and move into adulthood is essential,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education. “That leg up will help them to take advantage of the benefits a post-secondary education offers, now and in the future.”

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2 Comments

  1. Having worked with Crown wards in various for profit and not-for-profit organizations, I was concerned with this proposed money being utilized to fund for profit foster care and group home businesses, which are becoming too prevalent in our child protection system. While this proposed money doesn’t appear to be available for these systems, and adoption remains a difficult and expensive process in need of government support, I am weary about the proper safeguards being in place to prevent abuse of this money moving forward; especially with one time financial assistance grants available in certain circumstances. Providing “living and learning grants” of up to $500 per month for adopted children enrolled in full time post-secondary schooling raises some questions of redundancy, as the government already offers supports for current and former Crown wards attending post-secondary schools. It is not made clear if this $500 dollars per month would be in conjunction with the special grants and breaks already in place, or if this would simply be policy reform. In any case, I applaud the efforts made to facilitate adoption of more children, and specifically hiring recruiters to advocate for the adoption of Crown wards. As noted on the Ontario government website http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/adoption/thinking-of-adopting/types.aspx Crown wards are often past the age of infancy, rendering them less likely to be adopted, so initiatives like this one are certainly useful.

  2. In reviewing the “living and learning grants” on the OSAP website (https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/A-ZListofAid/PRDR013066.html), it appears that this grant is being repackaged and replacing pre-existing support offered to youth within CAS’s, “Continued Care and Support for Youth” program. The “new” grant is extending the age of potential recipients to 24 (previously capped at the age of 20), and it appears as though the funds will go directly to the student, rather than to adoptive parents. Other than the confusing repackaging of these grants, this change appears to be of more benefit than the previous program. Still, the most interesting point brought forth in this article, is the funds being allocated to hiring recruiters to advocate for the adoption of Crown wards. As noted on the Ontario government website (http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/adoption/thinking-of-adopting/types.aspx), Crown wards are often past the age of infancy, rendering them less likely to be adopted, so initiatives like this one are a step in right direction.

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