Province takes measures to reduce number of teen runaways
Quebec is trying to cut down on runaways.
The numbers are troubling. Every day in Quebec 17 people run away, and while most are gone for less than 24 hours, around 15 per cent vanish for more than three days.
Last year more than 6,000 teenagers ran away from group homes in the province.
In 2016 six teenaged girls ran away from a Laval group home and police said some of the girls were targeted by gangs that wanted to sexually exploit them.
An independent report on the Laval incidents recommended a more personalized approach when it comes to helping troubled teens in youth homes,
The province is now introducing new measures to address the ongoing problem. Under the province’s new action plan, 63 new positions will be added across the province for supervisors who will provide support for educators. Staffing will also include liaison officers to help share best practices.
“The strategies were in place but I think what we have today is a global vision that everybody has shared across the province,” said Caroline Barbir of CISSS Laval.
But some youth workers aren’t convinced the government’s strategy will do much to help.
They say they’re still dealing with government cutbacks, which has led to staff burning out.
“There’s a lot of people who go on sick leave, people are not replaced,” said youth worker Caroline Simoneau.
Last year the government announced $12M to hire more psychologists and social workers at youth centers.
Some aren’t convinced the latest measures will help.
“We're not adding resources who are directly on the field with the client,” said Simoneau. “It's going to be the clinical supervision so it's support for the intervener but it's not more interveners.”