Pilot Study: The Child Welfare System and Homelessness among Canadian Youth
The issue of youth homelessness is particularly disturbing for it not only touches on a population that is vulnerable with relatively little control over its situation, but it also implies the failure of key components of society – families, schools, employment, and the various safety nets that have been instituted. One of the “systems” that has been set up to protect vulnerable youth is child welfare. However, there is evidence that some youth who have had experience with the child welfare system eventually become homeless, and that the numbers may be increasing. Several profiles of the urban homeless have discovered that many homeless youth and adults have a history of involvement with child welfare, including having been ‘in care’ and are over-represented among the homeless. While this group of youth is still a relatively small proportion of youth who have been through the child welfare system, this does suggest that some, very vulnerable youth, are not getting the kind of support that they need.
This pilot study aimed to contribute to a more thorough understanding of the relationship between youth who have been in the care of child welfare and youth homelessness in a Canadian context.