Montreal

Homelessness more likely for those who grow up in Quebec youth protection, study finds

A new study paints a troubling portrait of what happens to teens in the immediate years after they age out of Quebec's youth protection system. Thirteen months after leaving their foster home or group home, nearly one in five said they had been homeless.

'I was not prepared for adulthood, to make a budget, to find an apartment,' says man who lived through system

Concerns about a lack of support for those who age out of youth protection have been raised at the ongoing inquiry into Quebec's youth protection services (DPJ). (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

A new study paints a troubling portrait of what happens to teens in the immediate years after they age out of Quebec's youth protection system.

It shows that 13 months after leaving their foster home or group home, nearly one in five said they had been homeless.

In all, one third said they are in an unstable living situation.

The study, conducted by l'Étude sur le devenir des jeunes placés, is based on interviews and feedback from more than 1,100 people who have gone through the system, widely known by its French acronym, DPJ.

Martin Goyette, the study's lead author and a professor at l'École nationale d'administration publique, said Tuesday the findings "underline the importance of supporting the most vulnerable young people in preparing for the exit from placement."

"There is very little support from family — compared to the general population, who have support from their family well into their 20s," he said.

Concerns about a lack of support for those who age out of youth protection have been raised several times before the Laurent commission, the ongoing inquiry into youth protection services provided by the province.

A lack of support

Kevin Champoux-Duquette, 20, was in Quebec youth protection for 11 years. When he turned 18, he had nearly no one to turn to as he adapted to life as an adult, he said.

"I was not prepared for adulthood, to make a budget, to find an apartment, to manage alone the difficulties," said Champoux-Duquette, who worked as a consultant on the study.

"I experienced a lot of instability and found support in the community network because I felt let down by the system."

Régine Laurent, left, is chairing the commission looking at problems in Quebec's youth protection system. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The researchers recommend the province take urgent steps to provide additional care for those leaving youth protection.

"These protective efforts of preventing the youth from having to live on the street, or helping youth leave the streets as quickly as possible, is the only way to give these vulnerable youth a real chance at improving their housing situation," the study says.

The study is based on interviews with 1,136 youth. They will be met again in 2020 as part of the longitudinal study.

About the Author

Benjamin Shingler is currently covering the pandemic for CBC News in Montreal. He previously worked at The Canadian Press, Al Jazeera America and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Reach him by email at benjamin.shingler@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @benshingler.

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