Growing numbers of Canadians are living with their parents into their twenties—51 percent, according to a 2011 article in Maclean’s magazine – yet youth aging out of the care of the child welfare system are expected to make their own way in the world with no support by the time they turn 18.
According to Success for All, a new report from the Conference Board of Canada, there are a lot of these youth: nearly 2,300 a year. They are vulnerable to mental health problems. They are less likely than other Canadian kids to finish school or find good jobs. And they are more likely to require social assistance throughout their adult lives.
While the report acknowledges that “investing in the education and mental health of children in foster care is costly,” it concludes, “the long-term economic and financial returns on such an investment are considerable. With better education and mental health, young adults are more likely to find employment and earn higher wages.”
By providing supports to these youth transitioning into adulthood, Canada stands to close a $747 million economic gap, businesses stand to grow the pool of productive workers, and governments stand to build their tax base while reducing their social expenditures.
As the report makes clear, the moral argument for helping these youth should be powerful enough on its own. The numbers just lend that argument extra weight—and make the outcome of taking action measurable.
Prepared by the Conference Board of Canada.