Group calls on Saskatchewan government to stop aging out young people in their care

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Group calls on Saskatchewan government to put a halt on aging out young people in their care
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The Saskatchewan Youth in Care and Custody Network (SYICCN) is asking the Ministry of Social Services to put a halt on aging young people out of government care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Saskatchewan, young people can transition out of government care between the ages of 16 to 21, depending on their agreement.

They do have the option to apply for an extension of support under Section 56 of the Child and Family Services Act, but Richard Rothenburger with SYICCN said not every young person gains access to that.

The SYICCN is also asking the government to check in on young people who have transitioned out of care in the last year and make sure they are OK during these times of uncertainty.

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“I’m talking to young people every day and they are scared. I’m talking to young people that are currently in care, I’m talking to young people that have left care. They are scared, they don’t know what’s happening, they don’t know how to make the basic decisions they need to make. They don’t know what’s going to happen with their housing,” Rothenburger said.

Rothenburger has many concerns about how these young people are coping with the pandemic, namely if they have adequate housing and access to mental health and addictions services.

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Rothenburger said they are encouraging the government to check in on those who aged out in the last few years, but asked for one year specifically in their press release.

The Ministry of Social Services said they are currently reviewing the request.

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“We are working hard to ensure that all children and youth in care, their caregivers, and our community partners have the supports they need to stay safe during this time,” Joel Kilbride, Executive Director of Child and Family Services, wrote in a statement to Global News.

Rothenburger said although their office is closed he is still encouraging youth to contact them through social media and by phone.

An online petition created by SYICCN had 128 signatures as of Friday afternoon. The petition is addressed to four organizations including the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry of Justice and Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman.

The Ontario government has filed a regulation to put a halt on young people aging out of care during the pandemic, according to Hannah Anderson, spokesperson for Associate Minister Jill Dunlop.

“Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, no youth in care or former youth in care in Ontario will age out of the supports and services they are currently receiving through children’s aid societies,” Anderson said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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