1 in 3 adults who grew up in Quebec’s youth protection out of work, school at 21: study – Montreal


People who grew up under the care of Quebec’s youth protection system are far less likely to get an education and hold stable employment as they become adults, according to a groundbreaking new study.
The new research from the Chaire-Réseau de Recherche sur la Jeunesse du Québec paints a bleak picture. It finds one-third of people who grew up in the system are out of school and have no job by the time they reach 21.“It was really like a jail system,” recounted 28-year-old Esteban Torres, who grew up under the care of youth protection.He describes his time under government care as a harrowing experience.“Once I tried to eat a cookie and they sent me to an isolation room because I didn’t respect the rule of not eating a cookie at the right time,” he said. Story continues below advertisement

Torres says succeeding in school was an uphill battle.

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“I couldn’t concentrate to study because there was so much drama happening, especially people throwing chairs, tables and stuff like that,” he said.Without a high school diploma, Torres had a hard time finding a job and could barely afford food and rent after he aged out of care.

He’s not at all surprised by the findings of the new study. At age 21, one-third of those previously in youth care are not employed or in school, compared with 10 per cent in the general population. Only 37 per cent get their high school diploma by 21, compared with 86 per cent of the general population“I’m sad for them because we are not there for them right now,” said Nancy Audet, who grew up in youth protection but beat the odds and got a university degree after aging out of the system.She was among those taking part in a press conference in front of Montreal’s youth protection headquarters.“We need to give them resources so that they can develop their full potential,” Québec solidaire MNA Christine Labrie said.Labrie and fellow Québec solidaire MNA Guillaume Cliche-Rivard think part of the solution lies in a new bill they’re proposing. Story continues below advertisement

If passed, their legislation would allow all elected officials to visit youth protection facilities. They said right now only government ministers are allowed.“How is it impossible for us to access those kids to see how they’re living? We want to see what we can do to forward their development,” Cliche-Rivard said.In an email statement, a spokesperson for Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant said the government agrees MNAs should be able to see social resources in their communities, but that local health authorities ultimately decide who gets to visit.“We recognize the role of MNAs in controlling government action, but not at the cost of confidentiality and the protection of our young people,” Lambert Drainville said.Torres said he is now studying to be a pharmacist assistant. He hopes the road gets easier for the thousands of kids in youth protection right now.

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