EDMONTON -Alberta’s child and youth advocate says the death of an aboriginal teen shows the province must do a better job of preparing young people in government care for life as adults.
The recommendation is contained in Del Graff’s report on an indigenous man who was the victim of a homicide only months after he turned 18.
Graff said the man, known as Peter, had a horrific life growing up and did not get the counselling help he needed before he started living on his own.
“We are just seeing too many circumstances where that transition planning is just not in place at a sufficient level,” Graff said in an interview Tuesday.
“In Peter’s circumstances the outcome for him is tragic. We would have liked to see planning take place sooner.”
Graff’s report shows Peter grew up surrounded by substance abuse and violence and had a hard time dealing with the deaths of his parents and other members of his family. He eventually became an addict and violent when he couldn’t cope.
When he was offered help after he turned 18 he turned it down.
Graff said the government needs to ensure that young people in care have a transition plan, including where they intend to live, how they intend to support themselves and what they intend to do after they finish school, he said.
“The conversations should start happening when a young person is well before their 18th birthday,” he said.
Graff noted that his office raised similar concerns to the government in December 2015.
He said the province has good policies on the books to deal with the complex challenges posed by young people in care, but it needs to do more to ensure that staff understand and act on them.
Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee said the province is working to better deal with the long-term effects of grief, trauma and loss on young people in care.
“We accept the intent of the advocate’s recommendation and will continue to explore how we can best implement that intent and strengthen the ways we protect and support Alberta’s children and youth,” she said in a release.