TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $800,000 to develop new services and supports that respond to the distinct needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit and queer (LGBT2SQ) children, youth and families in the child welfare system. The funding is being provided to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) to roll out initiatives such as trips to inclusive and gender affirming camps for youths and expanded training for society staff that will help LGBT2SQ children and youth feel accepted and remain connected to their communities.
Ontario made the announcement today on International Transgender Day of Visibility, which aims to raise awareness of the challenges and contributions of transgender people around the world.
“Our government recognizes more needs to be done to improve outcomes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit and queer children and youth in our child welfare system. This investment will help develop new services and supports to respond to the specific needs of LGBT2SQ children and youth in care,” said Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jane McKenna.
The investment of $822,399 over three years will allow OACAS to develop sector-wide initiatives that help to improve outcomes for LGBT2SQ children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system. They include:
- Helping more children and youth attend Camp Lifting Leaves, a specialized camp for LGBT2SQ children and youth involved in Ontario’s child welfare system.
- Organizing events so youth can build peer relationships and also feel heard by children’s aid society staff.
- Expanding staff training to improve understanding of LGBT2SQ identities.
- Helping societies build relationships with local LGBT2SQ communities and organizations.
“We applaud the government’s support for the safety and well-being of LGBT2SQ children and youth,” said Nicole Bonnie, Chief Executive Officer of the OACAS. “We recognize we need to better understand, from an intersectional lens, the lived experiences of LGBT2SQ children and youth involved in the child welfare system to improve outcomes. This funding will provide critical supports for young LGBT2SQ Ontarians, their families, and the child welfare organizations that work with them.”
To better support LGBT2SQ children, youth and families, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services released a resource guide in 2018 to help respond to the needs of LGBT2SQ children and youth in the child welfare system. The guide includes information to families on how to best support and affirm their child or youth’s sexual and/or gender identity. The ministry also supports the Youth-in-Transition Worker program that connects youth transitioning out of the child welfare system into adulthood with youth outreach workers who provide inclusive and gender-affirming resources and supports.