The major social issue facing our communities is homelessness and the crime, drugs and prostitution associated with it.
People who live on the street consume a disproportionate amount of our community resources. British Columbia is now spending $65,000 per year per person to manage homelessness. In spite of all this money and our efforts the number of people on the street increases from 2100 in 1999 to 2600 in 2008.
One per cent of our children and youth in Canada find themselves in the provincial child-care system and yet between 65 and 90% of the people living on our streets were at one time system kids.
Foster children often enter the system with mental or physical problems and leave the system inadequately prepared to become contributing members of our communities. Only 21 per cent of system kids graduate from high school, compared to 80 per cent of other Canadian youth.
About 9,000 children and youths are in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, according to its Web site. At the University of Victoria, the Promoting Positive Outcomes for Youth From Care project studies what happens to youths after they graduate from the system at 19.
It found that within 2.5 years after leaving: 85 percent had been charged with a crime; 38 percent had been diagnosed with depression; and 41 percent reported using marijuana at least a few times per week. Just 21 percent of youths in care graduate from high school, compared to 78 percent across the province.
The Promoting Positive Outcomes for Youth project was a British Columbia study designed to examine what happens to youth following their exit from foster care at age 19.
We know the names, phone numbers and addresses of the majority of the people who will end up living on our streets next year, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. Today they are in foster care.
Whether marginalized by disability or circumstance, foster children generally need more support than the system is providing them to become contributing members of our society. Foster parents need help to prevent these system kids from entering into a life of poverty and despair, and to offer them opportunities and hope as they grow to adulthood.
Many at-risk children not in foster care can be identified by educators and other child-care professionals so they can be given opportunities to become contributing members of our communities.
- Assess the needs of each at-risk child
- Identify community resources and opportunities for at-risk children
- Connect at-risk children to community resources and opportunities that will provide each child with alternatives to the street
- Tell the stories of at-risk children and those in the community that can provide the resources and opportunities on this communication centre
By connecting the community to at risk children and directing our resources to providing children with alternatives to the street we can prevent homelessness before it begins enhancing their lives and reducing the cost of homelessness in our communities
Collaborating with each community to help marginalized children become contributing members of the community.
“We are a co-creator of communitychildren.ca because of our strong belief that connecting at-risk children to the resources of our communities will benefit all at-risk children and our communities.”
Melanie Filiatrault, President
British Columbia Federation of Foster Parent Associations