Foster Care in Canada: A Look At Child Welfare
Foster care trends in Canada show the number of children in care continues to rise. Reports suggest this is because reported cases of neglect increased over the past decade due in part to growing awareness of the issue.
In Canada, 9.2 of every 1,000 kids are in foster care – statistically speaking, a higher ratio than the U.S. system. But those in care are still just a portion of children in this country; how well do Canadians care for all our kids? Turns out we have a bit of work to do.
Child welfare assessment puts Canada in the middle
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children – a group that includes UNICEF, Plan International Canada, and World Vision – recently released a report that cited a number of evaluations that carried one theme: In most areas of child welfare, Canada can do better.
For example, the report highlights challenges with:
- Child Poverty: Canada ranked 20th of 30 industrialized countries.
- Early Childhood: Canada ranks very low among countries who are part of OECD (a global development organization) for access to, quality of, and funding for early childhood development and care.
- Adoption: Canada has a lower rate of child adoption than the United Kingdom and the United States.
A report card by UNICEFalso puts Canada in the middle:
- Educational and material well-being: Canada ranked well in these areas – within the top 10. These look at a number of factors like how easily youth move from school to employment, or a family’s financial situation.
- Family and peer relationships: Among industrialized countries, these relationships are where Canadians ranked lowest – 18th spot of 21 countries evaluated. When it comes to the amount of time children spend with their families, for example, just 50% of Canadian kids reported talking to their parents on a regular basis.
- Behaviours and risks: Another area for improvement, the report notes that “Canada is the only country where the level of cannabis use among 15-year-olds is above 40 percent.”
How foster care fits
Child welfare is a question for other experts, but these reports help show the context of Canada’s foster care program. While children in care face their own set of challenges, we believe the move towards family-based and child-centered care – the model we follow at Quinte Children’s Homes – keeps our focus on improving the critical areas that help kids succeed.
- Trocmé, N., Fallon, B., MacLaurin, B. & Sinha, V. (2011). The changing nature of substantiated maltreatment investigations in Canada.
- Mulcahy, M & Trocmé, N. (2010). CECW Information Sheet #78. Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care in Canada. Montreal, QC, Canada: Centre for Research on Children and Families, McGill University.
- Lajoie, J. & Léveillé S. (2007). The well-being of children in wealthy countries: UNICEF Report Card 7. CECW Information Sheet #52E. Montreal, QC, Canada: McGill University, School of Social Work.
- “Key Points about the CCRC Alternative Report”, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. November 1, 2011
- “Frequently Asked Questions”, Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal.