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Ontario plans to redesign child welfare system to focus on prevention, early intervention

Animal puppets are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

TORONTO — The Ontario government says it plans to redesign the province’s child welfare system to focus on prevention and early intervention.

Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jill Dunlop says the new strategy will also work to address the over-representation of Black and Indigenous families in the children’s aid system.

She says the plan will bolster community services and emphasize care in a family setting rather than in group homes where appropriate.

Dunlop says the revamped system will seek more permanent homes for children and youth who can’t stay in their families or communities, including a more centralized adoption process.

Read more: Inconsistent funding delays daycare reopening in some Ontario municipalities, group says

She says the plan was developed with input from youth, families, First Nations, community organizations and frontline workers, through consultations and online surveys.

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Today’s announcement does not, however, include new funding or legislative changes, nor does it set a timeline for the redesign.

“Children and youth in care experience significantly worse outcomes than those in a family setting, such as lower graduation rates, a higher risk of homelessness and more involvement with the justice system,” Dunlop said in a statement.

“That is why we are transforming the child welfare system, to ensure more families stay together and children and youth in care have the supports they need to be safe, succeed and thrive as they transition from care to adulthood.”

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