We must take care of vulnerable children during COVID-19 pandemic, youth rights group says

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COVID-19-related school and daycare closures are weakening children’s social nets, particularly affecting the most vulnerable, said the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse on Monday.

In a press release, Suzanne Arpin, vice-president responsible for the Commission’s youth mandate, said because of closures, teachers, daycare staff and school administrators are no longer present to notice difficult situations and report them to the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ).

Over the weekend, the Quebec government announced that schools will remain closed until at least May 1. Commission president Philippe-Andre Tessier anticipates an impact on children as a result of the precarious economic situation some parents have found themselves in amid the pandemic. 

He cites job loss and living together in isolation in small spaces for 24 hours a day as potential causes of tension within families 

Arpin is calling on Quebecers who notice situations in which a child’s safety is threatened to report the event to the DPJ. 

On March 19, the Quebec government restricted contact between children in foster families and youth centres with their relatives. The commission said the last decree within the restriction requires that the DPJ provide other methods of contact between family members, such as through technology. 

The Commission is also concerned about the possible displacement of personnel currently dedicated to protecting young people towards front-line health services.