The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) and its members welcome the 2015 report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. The safety and protection of children is the first priority of Ontario Children’s Aid Societies (CASs). As noted by the Auditor General, child protection services are mandatory. Children cannot be placed on wait lists. Ontario CASs are committed to the provision of quality services and excellence through a culture of organizational learning and continuous improvement. This is done through internal case audits, program evaluation, and client / stakeholder engagement, with the findings identifying best practices and supporting improvement initiatives.
Measuring Outcomes with Performance Indicators
CASs and OACAS are engaged in a long-term process to ensure that evaluation of their work is focused on measuring outcomes for the children and families they serve. CASs are currently collecting data on a number of Key Performance Indicators that provide insight into the impact and outcomes of their services. An important indicator measures the recurrence of maltreatment. CASs will be analyzing and using this data to enhance services. OACAS and CASs will work together to improve compliance with standards in the areas identified by the Auditor General.
Reviewing the Funding Model to Ensure Equitable CAS Services to All Children
OACAS is leading the sector on a funding model review to recommend changes to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Servicess (MCCSS) that will distribute funding for protection services more evenly. Children, youth, and families should have equitable access to local, high-quality services. The availability of urgent services provided by CAS partners in the children’s services system is unevenly distributed across the province. This has a distinct impact on the services that CASs are able to provide. OACAS would welcome the opportunity to work with MCCSS to determine the impact that the differences in supports have on the quality of child protection services.
Supporting Youth as They Transition to Adulthood
OACAS welcomes formal opportunities to work with MCCSS to support youth in planning for their transition to adulthood through ongoing analysis of the Continued Care and Support for Youth program.
Analyzing the Impact of Worker Caseload on Services Provided
There is variance in the size of worker caseloads at CASs across Ontario, and there are complex budgetary and operational factors that contribute to this variance. The child welfare sector acknowledges the importance of effectively promoting child protection, and preventing abuse and neglect, in the face of declining budgets at many agencies. It is, however, very important to analyze the impact of caseload sizes on service delivery and quality. OACAS will be seeking to partner with MCCSS on this urgent issue.
Ensuring Adequate Funding for the Child Protection Information Network
OACAS and CASs fully support the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN). Of note in the report is the Auditor General’s validation that the true costs of CPIN implementation far exceed funding received to date. CASs must have the ability to direct operating funding to provide direct support to children and families and agree that offsetting the cost of CPIN implementation is unsustainable. We will continue to work with MCCSS to identify the true costs and request adequate funding, without compromising direct service delivery.
Embarking on a Shared Services Program
OACAS and CASs across the province are embarking on a formalized shared services program to realize savings, improve CAS capacity in quality and service delivery, and free up existing funding for reinvestment into direct client services. CASs in the Northern zones are meeting to consider multiple sustainability options to improve service delivery, including jurisdictional boundary realignment, amalgamations, and sharing of services.
Strengthening Governance Capacity
OACAS is leading a number of initiatives to strengthen the governance capacity of local boards. This includes development of Performance Indicators that measure the functioning and capacity of local boards of directors. The OACAS and CASs will focus on ensuring Boards of Directors of CASs are aware of the requirements of the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act and their fiduciary duties as governance bodies.
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