Caregivers and workers need to help youth in and from care stay out of the youth justice system. The recommendations in the Blueprint are designed to improve the positive experiences and opportunities for youth in and from care and will serve as prevention strategies. If youth become involved in the justice system, however, they require support to prevent further involvement and to transition to successful adulthood.

Short-term recommendations

It is essential and urgent that....

  • ...youth are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities at an early age, as a prevention strategy.
    • Children and youth have the freedom, support and resources to participate in different activities that interest them.
  • ...caregivers are trained in conflict resolution, crisis prevention and de-escalation to prevent situations from escalating to the point where police are called to residences
    • Policies and best practices on handling conflict are communicated to staff and caregivers on an ongoing basis.
    • Responses to conflict are tailored to the youth and the situation (e.g. allowing youth to cool off).
    • When youth are considered “absent without leave” caregivers have options that do not involve calling the police, to prevent unnecessary contact with the youth justice system.
  • ... children's aid society workers, police, probation officers and healthcare professionals work with youth and caregivers to develop protocols that create common expectations about responses to issues involving youth in care.
    • Protocols address expectations about charging youth and how to identify the case manager (e.g. CAS worker, probation officer) for each youth based on his or her relationships and needs.
    • Children's aid societies work with local lawyers, judges, and caregivers so that when it is appropriate youth are able to return to their group or foster homes after they have been charged.
  • ...children's aid societies and the justice system see detention as the last resort.
    • CASs explore ways to keep youth in and from care out of detention when possible and address barriers to securing bail.
    • Building on existing successful models, make diversion programs available across the province to give youth an alternative to detention, offering them participation in constructive programs that identify and build on their assets and interests.
    • Workers and caregivers support youth to identify and address the root causes that brought them into contact with the justice system and use this to inform decisions about diversion programs and other positive interventions.
  • ... children's aid societies support youth in and from care in detention and when they return to the community.
    • Children's aid societies have regular visits and contact with youth while they are in detention; youth have mechanisms to contact their workers.
    • Children's aid society workers, probation officers, caregivers and the youth develop a discharge plan for the youth's return to the community. Plans emphasize education, residential stability, continued connections with caregivers, and other appropriate supports and programs.
    • Youth have access to financial and non-financial supports, such as Extended Care and Maintenance, when they leave detention to help to transition to independent living. Children's aid societies continue to provide support to youth in contact with the justice system over the age of 18 while they are eligible for Extended Care and Maintenance.
  • ... caregivers and children's aid society workers understand the youth justice system and the implications of involvement with it.
    • The ministry work with children's aid societies, provincial associations, and community partners to develop a resource describing how the youth justice system works.
    • Children's aid societies or community partners create a support network for caregivers of youth involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the youth justice system.
    • Foster parents support youth in care while they are going through the youth justice system and after they return to the community.
  • ...children's aid societies appoint a court-based worker to support youth involved in the justice system
    • Court-based workers who are familiar with the youth's history work with the youth's lawyer and are involved throughout the case and resolution meetings.