The Ontario government has given Maggie an ultimatum: the disabled teen can lose her funding or her independence. The girl has Down syndrome, a rare condition that can lead to severe emotional and physical disability in later life.
When the family of her caretaker was hit with financial and parental problems, Maggie was asked whether they would keep her with her caretaker while she went to live with her grandmother in rural Ontario, or be placed with the child’s foster family.
Maggie’s case is not alone in this country. But what about all the stories that are not published?
At the end of February, the government announced $7 million for four organizations that provide support for teenagers at high risk of family breakdown, but the money will not be allocated until the end of the year.
The first of these is the Youth Development Agency of Ontario, which provides help to young adults with significant personal, family and cultural issues. It received $8.5 million in last year’s budget.
The second is the Specialized Assistance to Children and Youth Program, which provides long-term services and supports to children and youth with a variety of complex special needs.
The third is the Family Development and Youth Agency, which provides a range of support services to at-risk families. It received $5.3 million for this year.
And the last is the National Childbirth and Adolescent Mental Health Centre (NCAMHC), which has been trying to secure $20 million in funding for a new psychiatric unit.
In Ontario, a child’s family is meant to be there for her to grow up with and provide for until she is old enough to take care of herself.
But because of the family’s financial problems, the state has become her caregiver – often putting her in care.
And in the case of kids with special needs in foster care, the state goes to great lengths to ensure they do not go astray.