ST. JOHN’S, NL – The new Children, Youth and Families Act begins second reading in the House of Assembly today, May 15.
The legislation will replace the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act.
According to a news release from the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development, the proposed bill aims to improve information sharing and increase focus on preserving the family unit.
As well, it expands permanency options for children and youth in foster care, strengthens service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families, identifies and supports youth in need of protection, and develops a licensing regime for out of home placements.
Children, Seniors and Social Development Minister Lisa Dempster said the changes represent a big step forward for protecting children, youth and families in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The protection and care of vulnerable children and youth is a core value of our government, and the new Children, Youth and Families Act is key to helping ensure this protection,” she said.
“This progressive legislation enhances the focus on maintaining children and youth with families where it is safe to do so, as well as improving service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families.”
Consultations on the new legislation took place in 2016 with over 30 organizations taking part through a variety of methods.
Over 170 surveys were received from young people and families as well as Children, Seniors and Social Development staff.
The department also completed a full jurisdictional scan of child welfare legislation across Canada and reviewed child welfare literature to gather information on best practices.
The new act officially comes into effect 12 months from Royal Assent.
Children, Youth and Families Act highlights:
- An enhanced focus on maintaining children and youth in their family homes by recognizing the role of family in promoting the safety and well-being of children and youth;
- Identifying and supporting youth in need of protection by increasing the scope of the duty to report to include youth, and by removing restrictions so that all youth under a youth services agreement can receive services until they reach the age of 21;
- Expanding permanency options for children and youth by establishing a process so that children and youth who are declared in need of protective intervention by a judge can be placed in the permanent custody of a person, such as a relative or other person significant to the child or youth;
- Improving information sharing to assist in the protection of children and youth;
- Establishing a licensing and regulatory framework for agencies, family-based placement providers and residential placement providers to increase accountability and provide options to increase the number of foster homes; and
- Strengthening service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families.