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Residential services report could raise standards of care: OPSEU

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is welcoming the report of the Residential Services Review Panel, Because Young People Matter.

“This report has the potential to raise the standard of care for all children and youth in foster homes, group homes, and open- and closed-custody facilities,” said Deb Gordon, chair of the OPSEU Community Services Divisional Council. “But it will only do so if the Government of Ontario acts on its recommendations and takes back ownership, oversight, and accountability for residential services.”

The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, paints a picture of a piecemeal system in which funding is inconsistent and licensing requirements do not set proper standards for quality of care. A growing number of operators housing three or fewer youth are allowed to be unlicensed, the report says, and government has no mechanism to track children and youth in residential placements.

“I think most Ontarians would be shocked to know that obtaining a license to provide a residential service does not come with a requirement to meet a high standard of care,” said Gordon. “If government doesn’t spell out expectations for success in residential services, it has no way to track how vulnerable youth are doing at even the most basic level.”

The union welcomed the review panel’s recommendation that the government create a single system for youth in custody, and called for that system to come under direct ministry oversight.

The union also supported the review panel’s recommendation that the ministry address high staff turnover in the residential sector through more training and better compensation for workers in the system.

“If you want people to devote their careers to residential care, you have to commit money to their career development – it’s as simple as that,” said Gordon.

Because Young People Matter makes it clear that what we need is a well-organized, regulated, properly-funded system that treats kids like kids, not profit centres,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We encourage Kathleen Wynne and her government to make the investments needed to implement the review panel’s recommendations.”

For more information: Deb Gordon, 519-520-2491