Abdoulaye Diakhaby unlike his counterparts was highly ossified when he turned 18. The previous four years had been spent in the child-welfare system where he first lived in a foster home and later moved to a group home. He was however forced to be independent when he clocked 18.
He is now 21 years old and he said he never felt ready as he was still trying to fine tune his English, didn’t know how to cook and needed someone to help with his homework.
While talking to CBC Toronto, he said: “I was thinking, ‘How am I going to be able to do my groceries? How to cook? How to go to school? How to pay my rent? How to get a job?'”
Few days after he moved into his own place, Diakhaby returned to the group home to sleep for a couple of nights as he was lonely and felt isolated.
Diakhaby said if he had his way, he’d still be living there, rather than making the transition away.
He said: “Everything was tough for me.”
Ontario has placed a moratorium on youth aging out of care due to COVID-19 and has extended it to September 30, 2022.
According to CBC News, the government of Ontario will deploy the time to redesign the process by which young people exit the system by not factoring in the current age cut-off. Instead, officials of the province said their plan was to ensure that youths feel confident and are well prepared.
The province made it known that just below 12,000 children and youth are in the child-welfare system. Around half of youths that experience homelessness in Ontario were part of that system, over half dropped out of high school while 57 percent depend on social assistance.
Associate Minister of Children and Women’s issues, Jill Dunlop said the government wanted the children to meet major milestones before they leave care.
During an interview, Dunlop said: “We’re building a model that’s going to work for them. Young people take different paths, but we want to ensure that the supports are there.”
Under the present system, some youth who leave care qualify for financial assistance till they turn 21 and other supports till they turn 24. Yet, advocates that have been requesting for a readiness-based model have made it known that these supports have not been close to enough.
Irwin Elman, Ontario’s former child and youth advocate said: “The system itself was traumatizing and it retraumatized them.
“When they left the system, they felt dumped out and as one young person said, ‘shoved off the edge of a cliff, alone, with nothing and expected to do well.'”
The government of Ford scrapped Elman’s position and shut down the office in 2018 and transferred his responsibilities to Ombudsman’s office.
What the new system will be and how the new system will work is under determination but the Ministry said it was liaising with former children in care, advocates and others to work out the program.
According to Dunlop, over 2,500 young people that are expected to age out by 2022 will be guarded by the moratorium.