Almost 60% of homeless youth have reported having experience with the child welfare system. When a young person is apprehended from their caregivers by a Children’s Aid Society, they are promised a better place. Yet outcomes for these young people are not good, often including;

  • unfinished schooling,
  • unemployment,
  • homelessness,
  • incarceration,
  • exacerbated mental health.

A black woman and a young black man sit comfortably together and smile at the camera.

A lot of experiences contribute to this.

Many youth have experienced abuse and/or neglect in their developmental years, causing trauma that impacts brain development. After coming into care, a youth may be moved around multiple times which breaks up their schooling. Many have mental health challenges that are going unsupported or unnoticed.

Needless to say, these young people go through a lot without the resources needed to support them. After all that, they are usually expected to live independently as young as 16. With all these additional challenges and barriers, it’s no wonder many of these young people wind up experiencing homelessness.

Research shows that youth need strong family-like supports to help them get and keep housing. So, can we find this through adoption?

Adoption often stirs up images of newborns and legal documentation; however it doesn’t always have to look that way. Many families are able to provide support and loving bonds to older youth, and teenagers. This added stability can help struggling youth blossom and potentially reduce youth homelessness.

It’s true; we need a stronger child welfare system to start improving outcomes for youth and children. Part of strengthening it means ensuring youth have those family-like connections they need to flourish. This ‘adoption’ can be unique for every family and benefit young people at any age.

There are many pieces of the puzzle to ending youth homelessness. As Adoption Awareness Month wraps us, we can look at adoption as one of them.

If you are interested in looking at adoption as a way to build your family go to adoption.on.ca for more information.

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