Five/Fourteen is the only foster agency dedicated solely to providing services and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, two-spirit, and otherwise gender-independent children and youth in foster care.
There are thousands of LGBTQ youth in care in Ontario. Yet, until we opened our doors in 2016, there still wasn’t a single designated safe placement for youth on the rainbow spectrum. Now with Five/Fourteen, an team of staff and foster parents is dedicated entirely to their care.
On May 14, 2012, “My Real Life Story”, a report of the Youth Leaving Care hearings, was released by the Office of the Provincial Advocate of Ontario. The report highlighted a badly broken system, discouraging outcomes for young adults who had been raised in foster care.
Out of that report was born the Youth Leaving Care Working Group’s “Blueprint for Fundamental Change to Ontario’s Child Welfare system”, which, along with reports from Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and the City of Toronto, and data from UCLA’s William’s Institute, the Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal, points to a dire need to improve things for LGBTQ foster youth, who have the highest risks for sexual abuse, physical and verbal assault, and suicide. Lucas Medina, now Five/Fourteen’s Executive Director, was unnerved at the realization that the stories he read in these reports were all too familiar, all too similar to his own experiences as a crown ward many years before.
"Five/Fourteen is the only foster agency dedicated solely to providing services and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, two-spirit, and otherwise gender-independent children and youth in foster care."
Lucas contacted the Office of the Provincial Advocate to find out how he could get involved, and was invited to join a new committee, You Are Not Alone, which would meet with LGBTQ youth in and from care from across Ontario to get their stories of life in foster care. In his work with this committee, Lucas came to understand that without a dedicated service for LGBTQ foster youth, it would take many more years for the child welfare system to catch up with broader society.
In 2013, the Government of Ontario declared May 14 as Children and Youth In Care Day in Ontario, a day when the Government would update the people of the province on the changes the Government made over the previous year to ensure improved outcomes for youth in the Province’s foster system. May 14, 2014 was Ontario’s first Children and Youth In Care Day. This day also marked the 45th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual acts in Canada, yet LGBTQ youth were left out of the Province’s updates on foster youth. Our community’s most vulnerable were ignored. Five/Fourteen exists to ensure May 14 never passes again without mention of LGBTQ youth in care, and that each year brings better conditions and better outcomes for our community.
An independent agency with established relationships and partnerships with existing social service agencies, the Government of Ontario, and university research centres, Five/Fourteen provides foster placement services and community integration support for youth in foster care who identify as LGBTQ or otherwise gender non-conforming. Five/Fourteen aims to create a path for our clients to move seamlessly from foster care to full independence with solid life skills and a supportive community.