Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario are now able to provide a full range of child protection services to 16- and 17-year-olds. This is an important change that will lead to real benefits for youth in Ontario.
Research indicates that older youth who have been abused or neglected have an increased risk of experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, substance use, human trafficking and decreased employment prospects. Now, 16- and 17-year-olds will have:
Information for youth
If you are 16 or 17 years old and feel in need of support and protection, you can approach a Children’s Aid Society and voluntarily create a service agreement that will give you some or all of the supports that are available to youth in care. The decision is yours, whether you receive support or not, and so you can feel comfortable calling us to discuss your situation and your options.
You may need protection services if you are experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and/or abandonment, or if you are at risk of any of these things. If you have left home because of concerns about safety or risk of harm at home, or if you are homeless, you may be eligible for services. If you’re not sure about whether you might be eligible, you can contact us at 905-525-2012 (after hours 905-522-8053).
Information for the public and for youth-serving agencies
We all have a responsibility to keep children and youth in our community out of harm’s way. For children under the age of 16, this responsibility is called a Duty to Report. Basically, if you have any reason to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you are legally required to report that suspicion to a Children’s Aid Society. The Society will investigate your concern, and will determine if abuse or neglect is occurring, or is at risk of occurring. If so, the Society will engage with the child and its family to determine the best way to keep that child safe.
Now that 16- and 17-year-olds are able to receive the full range of protection services, we all have a role to play in keeping them safe too, but that role looks a little different. Because of the increased maturity and independence of youth aged 16 and 17, they have the right to determine whether they want to receive the protection services of a Children’s Aid Society. And so, if you suspect that a 16- or 17-year-old is being abused or neglected, you may choose to report this to a Children’s Aid Society for the Society’s follow up. Or you may choose a different course of action, such as a discussion with the youth about their options.
We encourage anyone who has concerns about the safety and well-being of a 16- or 17-year-old to contact a Children’s Aid Society. Our staff are well trained to handle these kinds of situations, and have the skills to determine what is really happening and what to do about it.