Restraints and at-risk kids – Opinion/Letters – Re: Safety net for at-risk kids may be removed, July 18
Published On Wed Jul 21 2010.   Laurel Broten; Keith Powell

Children and youth receiving support and protection from Ontario’s children’s aid societies are some of the most vulnerable kids in our province. Our government is committed to seeing that those kids have every opportunity to reach their full potential.

We appointed a Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare to provide important advice on changes to improve our child welfare system, so that kids have the best possible outcomes. We recently received their first report and working papers, and are considering all of the commission’s recommendations. No decisions have been made.

The commission has not and will not propose the removal of safeguards that protect vulnerable children and youth, and the commission has not proposed that the use of physical restraints in residential care go unreported.

As we move forward in making improvements to our child protection system, we will ensure serious incidents are reported and investigated in an effective way so that kids continue to be protected.

The Star’s editorial board has recognized that our child welfare system needs changes, and that the system is overloaded with bureaucratic rules with no evidence that those rules actually help kids.

When child and youth workers spend more time with kids and less time filing paperwork, kids have a stronger safety net and can achieve their best possible outcomes.

Laurel Broten, Minister of Children and Youth Services, Queen’s Park, Toronto


We appreciate the attention the Star has brought to the issue of reduced reporting on the use of physical restraints as they apply to vulnerable citizens living in group homes or relying on care and support through residential and other social services in Ontario.

As an advocacy body for people who have an intellectual disability, some of whom we know have been affected and harmed by the use of restraints, we are extremely concerned that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is considering a move to reduce the reporting rules on incidents where restraints are used.

There must be continued oversight to ensure that physical restraints are being used appropriately and if, indeed, they need to be used at all. The reduction in reporting leaves these citizens, particularly children, more vulnerable than ever. A child can be severely harmed by the use of restraints in ways besides those resulting in “injury or death.”

We cannot become a society that compromises critical safeguards put in place to protect citizens in order to save ourselves the “hassles” and “irritants” of paperwork related to those safeguards. The safety and lives of our children depend on these safeguards and are well-worth the time, effort, and due diligence required to uphold them.

Keith Powell, Executive Director, Community Living Ontario

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