Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ontario Child Welfare Law Discriminating Against Foster Children

If a youth in foster care accomplished something he or she was proud of, like winning a community award, the newspaper would not be allowed to publish a photo or name of that youth due to Sub-section 45 (8) of the Ontario's Child and Family Services Act.

If a youth in foster care were being abused in foster care and the youth wanted to go to the newspaper to tell his or her story, or even if the youth wanted to publish his or her own story on a website, they would not be allowed according to Sub-section 45(8) of Ontario's Child and Family Services Act.

The youth in care themselves should be able to determine when their names can be published or not since the law was originally put in place to protect them. Currently it has the effect of protecting the protectors instead of the youth.

Sub-section 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act reads as follows:

No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child’s parent or foster parent or a member of the child’s family.
The youth who violates this provision of the statute? Punishable under section 85 (3) of the Child and Family Services Act:
is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than three years, or to both.

So not only can the youth not identify themselves, they also can't express themselves regarding their foster parents, their own family members, or other foster siblings.

This limitation only affects foster kids and does not apply to "regular" kids. It appears as if this statute provision discriminates against a select group of people based on family status, which may be a Human Rights issue to be tested by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Youth Across Ontario (and other provinces have similar legislation) are now getting a stronger voice in the public arena and should begin lobbying government to allow them to sign a waiver when ever they want to be identified as opposed to being forced to hide behind a pseudonym or false name. This has the effect of punishing the victims and stigmatising them.

To ensure you read the latest version of this post, please visit http://www.fostercarenews.blogspot.com as this post may have been modified since being sent out.