Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa helping youth transition out of foster care into independence

By David DeRocco

Fundraising continues to fill in gaps in government funding

For a youth engaged in the child welfare system, support from organizations like The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) is critical whether that child is being fostered or being cared for by a family member who has stepped up to help. Up until recently, however, children approaching the age of 18 had to deal with the fact they were about to age out of vital programs and funding previously provided by the CASO.

Aging out of care at 18 remains a relevant and present problem if proper support programs are not in place prior to a youth hitting legal age and beyond. The reality of facing such an uncertain future often adds another level of anxiety for children already trying to overcome past trauma. This past April, the Province of Ontario put $68 million in funding in place to financially continue support for youth aged 18 to 23. While the funding available to youth is provided on a diminishing scale each year, it will provide much needed support during a critical period in their journey to adult independence.

“The provincial government created the new program called Ready Set Go,” said Walter Noble, Executive Director of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, the private organization tasked with fundraising on behalf of the CASO. “It’s designed to help youth successfully transition out of foster care toward independence. It’s a big psychological transition for them. The monetary fear they experience in those years is quite hefty. The program is about putting financial support in place to help them with the transition. We’re here to help fill those gaps in funding.”

Despite the infusion of government funding, the fact is youth need more than money to succeed in life. They need important life skills, tools and education in order to succeed. The solution being provided by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa is to start preventative programs at age 15, before youth leave child welfare. Then when they do leave at 18 (not 23) they are in a better position. Through CAF Ottawa prevention programs like Youth Works, the organization is able to make this happen and buttress the government money to help youth succeed.

Every year, large numbers of remarkable young adults transition from The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa into independent lives. In fact, 223 youth in the Ottawa area are on the verge of such an important step forward in their lives. Through its ongoing charitable fundraising efforts, The Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa is able to play a pivotal role in their journey, offering support through education, housing, and employment initiatives.

Statistics demonstrate the value and positive impact of providing youth involved with child welfare with proper support. For example, the most recent stats available from the Ministry of Education indicate the four-year graduation rate for students is 84.2 per cent; in comparison, only 45 per cent of youth involved with child welfare graduate from high school. Of those only 4 per cent obtain a postsecondary education.

“These kids don’t have the network they need to successfully transition away from foster care,” said Noble. “They have a social worker, but once they’re 23 they’re on their own, completely. A lot of the fundraising we do is to help youth transition out of care, helping them set up an apartment, to participate in an employment readiness program, to develop financial literacy, or to provide bursaries to help them receive post secondary education.”

The Dream Launcher donor community developed by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa provides local kids with a dependable base of support, investing in their future. Not only does the organization provide emergency needs, like a new bed, stroller, or clothing, but they also fund preventative programs directed to where it’s needed most. This includes vital psychological counselling services to help young adults in care deal with the residual effects of childhood trauma, along with important personal health services addressing dental and medical needs.

Become a Dream Launcher! To learn more about the programs being made possible by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, visit Call (613) 745-1893. Or email Communications Director Mairi Thomson.

Charitable Registration #: 897546735RR0001

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