New legislation that ensures the protection and care of children and youth comes into effect today (Friday, June 28). The new Children, Youth and Families Act which replaces the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act, is child and youth-centred, family-focused and culturally responsive.
The new Act enhances the focus on maintaining children and youth within families where it is safe to do so and expands opportunities to create permanency for children and youth who are declared in need of protective intervention.
The Children, Youth and Families Act contains significant updates aimed at strengthening service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families by recognizing the importance of preserving an Indigenous child or youth's cultural identity, and providing for the involvement of Indigenous governments and organizations in decisions that will keep children safe, and where possible, at home with their families and culture.
In addition, the new act expands the identification and support of youth in need of protection by increasing the scope of the duty to report to include youth aged 16-17, and removing restrictions so that all youth under a voluntary Youth Services Agreement can receive services until their 21st birthday. This will allow the Youth Services Program to be more responsive to the needs of youth and also allow them to complete high school before making the transition to independent living.
The Children, Youth and Families Act was developed following extensive consultations with more than 30 organizations, including those representing Indigenous governments and organizations.
“Every child and youth deserves to grow up in a safe and caring environment. The new Children, Youth and Families Act provides the legislative framework to ensure that the appropriate services and supports are in place to protect and care for children and youth who are at risk. This new act also reflects upon our commitment to work together to promote the health and well-being of our children, youth and families.”
Honourable Lisa Dempster
Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development