How Many Children Depend on Foster Care?

Whenever the authorities deem a child’s living situation unsafe, many are placed into foster homes. Others may go into other types of out-of-home care on behalf of child welfare agencies, but the conventional wisdom suggests that the majority of Canadian children who have suffered from abuse and/or neglect end up in foster care. But exactly how many children depend on foster care? How widespread are neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and behavioral problems in the province of Quebec? Well, that’s where it gets troubling.

In 2013, Association des Centres Jeunesse de Quebec reported 11,250 in kinship care, foster care and group care. And that’s the last remaining statistic we have on how many children depend on foster care services. How it has changed over the course of four years—we actually have no idea.

The only other data on children in foster care comes from 2008. In 2008, Quebec had over 28,600 cases of child maltreatment investigations, 3,000 more than in the previous decade. The most common reason for these investigations was neglect.

It’s troubling that there isn’t more information about children in foster care available because tracking how many kids are in foster care and what becomes of the children who go through this program is the best way to figure out how it can improve. Unfortunately, thanks to underfunding, staff cuts and a lack of foster families or resources to support them, we may never know exactly how many children are suffering from neglect and abuse. They are doomed to fall through the cracks even further than they already have.

Of course, if you are appalled by the notion that there is very little being done to improve the quality of life for thousands of children who have been born into bad situations, there is something that you can do. Rather than let this vulnerable and virtually invisible segment of our population be forgotten, you can make a difference in their lives by participating in the New Secret Santa.

We are asking for gifts and monetary donations to benefit the foster kids of the Batshaw Youth and Family Centres. When you donate a gift, you can’t underestimate the difference it can make. Since neglect is the top cause of child maltreatment investigations in Quebec, there is no question that the holidays are difficult for these children, especially with all the emphasis on family and togetherness at this time of year. When there is a present underneath the tree for a foster child instead of a harsh reminder of their experiences and current situation, the gratitude is unspeakable.

And if you can’t donate a gift to the New Secret Santa, whatever money you can spare can also make a huge difference in the life of a foster child. Thanks to your generosity, the Batshaw Youth and Family Centres can improve and expand the services they offer to these children in need.

With the number of children in foster care in Quebec hovering somewhere above the 10,000 mark, whatever you are able to spare can make a huge difference in their lives in this time of need.