A national report released earlier this month identified strong links between youth homelessness and Canada's child welfare system. In this special report, meet young people in Kitchener-Waterloo who are living in the system, those who have made a successful transition into adulthood and out of social care, and hear from the agency responsible for child welfare in Waterloo region.

In this three-part Special Report:

Youths at Kitchener shelter think system 'too rigid' to help them advance

Young people with ties to Canada's child welfare system say 'aging out' out of the support system aimed at children is just one of the challenges facing homeless young people trying to break out of the social care cycle.

"No one's the exact same," one says. "You can't put rules, rules, rules, when everyone is different. What happens if someone has ADHD and can't sit down in a chair for that long?"

Education, community support key to smooth transition for youth in care

Educational opportunities and community support are key when it comes to positive outcomes for youth in the child welfare system, according to the head of a local children's services organization.

"Child welfare needs to be a community response," says Karen Spencer, executive director of Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region. "It takes a community to raise a child."

Meet 2 young people who made smooth transition with proper supports

In spite of the grim prognosis set out by The Homeless Hub report, some youths who grow up in the child welfare system do make the transition from care to independence. The key, according to two young adults now making the transition, is having adequate supports.

"We don't have family," Julian Hulin says. "We can't just reach out and talk to our family and ask them for the support that we need."