While I was in college, we were given a question as part of an assignment. If you were to enact one law related to children and families, what would it be called and what would be its purpose? Today, I am going to elaborate on the three sentence answer I gave back then. (shout outs to Algonquin College, Perth, SSW Program 2015 grads!)
With the tabling of the new legislation by CYS minister Michael Coteau to completely replace the Child and Families Services Act, it is time to seriously consider what the real problems in child protection law are and how to resolve them.
I have written before about how the problems in social services are not complicated. Therefore, the legislation I would propose would not be complicated either. Coteau’s new legislation aims to provide high-quality care to children who have been apprehended. The legislation I would propose would aim to provide high-quality care to children. Period. All kids. I would call it the The Wake the Hell Up People Act and its purpose would be to recognize the importance of children as our future and guarantee all resources for them. This would extend to every child, not just children in care. It would not penalize and shame parents for failure to provide these resources, but would instead help with its provision. The number one cause of child apprehension in Ontario is neglect. The number one cause of neglect is poverty. The Wake the Hell Up People Act would try to prevent that.
Let’s take that $1.5 billion used to fund Children Aid Societies in Ontario and use it to eradicate child poverty. Not just for food and snowsuits but also free recreational sports and equipment, less the red tape and stigma of having to be “eligible” for such charity. It should be free and guaranteed for every child.
The real problems with child protection law is that children do not come first. Money, employment law, the tax-payer, policy and procedure - among other things, come first. There is nothing more important than children and legislation should reflect that. The real solution is simple. The needs of the child are paramount. Always. No Exception.