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Working with Parents with Mental Health Challenges



OACAS has published a Practice Note and decision tree to assist child welfare professionals in identifying concerns in the daily functioning of parents and developing a service plan for families. It is based on the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) 2.0 screening tool, which can be used to assess parental functioning.  

This Practice Note was developed in partnership with mental health professionals and is one of OACAS' responses to the 2013 Domestic Violence Death Review Committee recommendation that "OACAS develop training for child protection staff that will assist them in working collaboratively with mental health professionals in order to better assess the impact of a parent's mental health issues, discharge plan and medical treatment on parenting capacity."

The Practice Note is available in the following languages:
 English | French | Oji-Cree

Learn More:

Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadians

One Vision One Voice: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadians is a project of the African Canadian community, funded by the
Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, through OACAS. The project is guided by a Steering Committee of individuals and agency representatives from the African Canadian community. A Reference Group, made up primarily of African Canadian CAS staff, also provides guidance and support to the project.

The project will unfold in two phases. Phase 1 is the research phase, which will include:

  • Literature review
  • Best practice review
  • Province-wide consultations with the African Canadian community, held throughout Toronto, the regions of Peel, York, and Durham, Windsor, Hamilton, London, and Ottawa from September through November
  • Survey of CAS frontline staff

This research will explore what the literature and data indicate about the over-representation of children of African descent in child welfare. The consultations will hear directly from individuals and community agencies about the experiences of African Canadian children and families in the child welfare system and how the system can better support and improve outcomes for them.

The research report will be shared with the Ontario child welfare field and the public in January 2016.

The research will provide the foundation for a Practice Framework that will be completed by March 31, 2016, to be shared with the Ontario child welfare field mid-year.

As the project unfolds, the field will receive regular updates through The Voice and the OACAS website.

Learn More:

Why are so many black children in foster and group homes? - Toronto Star, December 11, 2014

Addressing Immigration Status Issues for Children & Youth in Care

Youth who leave care without permanent residence status or Canadian citizenship can enter a life filled with legal uncertainty and challenges.

In partnership with the CAS of Toronto, Catholic CAS of Toronto, Peel CAS and the Office of the Children's Lawyer, OACAS has produced a guide on identifying and working to resolve immigration status issues for children and youth in care.

Intended as a resource for agencies and their staff, Immigration Status Matters - A Guide to Addressing Immigration Status Issues for Children and Youth in Care offers practical advice on strengthening organizational capacity and practices to address youth immigration status issues.
The Guide consists of the following core sections:

  • The importance of addressing immigration status issues and the implications of leaving care without permanent residency or citizenship
  • Ideas for strengthening the organizational capacity and child welfare practices required to identify, address, and resolve immigration status issues
  • An overview of common immigration status issues and the considerations that need to be made when working to resolve them

For more information please contact Sharon Evans, OACAS Senior Program Analyst, at sevans@oacas.org.  

Child Welfare Annual Reports 2014-15

Annual reports from Ontario Children's Aid Societies are a good way to find information on what's happening in the child welfare sector across the province.

Below are four annual reports for the 2014-15 period:


Announcements Archive