OACAS Statement on Ontario Child Advocate’s Thunder Bay Foster Homes Report

On Tuesday, April 30, the Ontario Child Advocate’s office released its final investigative reports before closing its office permanently. Most of the Child Advocate’s investigative powers have now been transferred to the Ontario Ombudsman. On behalf of its member Children’s Aid Societies, OACAS wishes to express gratitude to Irwin Elman and the staff of the Ontario Child Advocate for their tireless work advocating for the province’s most vulnerable children and youth over the past 10 years. OACAS is looking forward to collaborating and developing a close partnership with the Ontario Ombudsman.

The OACAS and member agencies also welcome the Ontario Child Advocate’s final investigative reports and their recommendations. The Ontario Child Advocate’s Report focused on three foster homes in Thunder Bay operated by Johnson’s Children’s Services highlight many of the challenges that residential services in Ontario have been facing for the past several years. Like many in the children’s services sector, OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies are deeply concerned by the experiences of the children and youth at these foster homes. We are dedicated to doing working together to improve the residential services system so that all children and youth in Ontario receive the excellent care and services they need to thrive.

The Report’s 10 recommendations are directed at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and are aligned with the recommendations made by OACAS’s Residential Services Review Panel submission, which went to the Ministry in 2015. OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies, in partnership with the Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO), have been working since 2016 on addressing many of the issues described in the Report. Through the joint OACAS/ANCFSEO Residential Services Critical Issues Work Group, the implementation of over thirty recommendations is nearing completion.

The following are key highlights from the work of the joint Work Group, as it specifically relates the Advocate’s Report:

  • We are implementing new policies and procedures for sharing of information between child welfare agencies about residential service providers
  • There are on-going discussions with the Ministry around the need for a protocol that would govern the sharing of critical information between child welfare agencies and the Ministry when issues arise at Residential Care facilities.
  • We are developing a set of Best Practices for the Investigation of Protection Issues and Quality of Care Concerns in Residential Services that build upon the minimum requirements set by the ministry.
  • New policies and procedures have been implemented focused on “Special Rate Agreements” which are aimed at enhancing accountability and improving the quality of care in residential settings.
  • OACAS is in discussions with the Ministry about the need for resources to support a plan for broad consistent training for residential care providers.

OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies will continue to focus on how the child welfare sector can support the on-going improvement of the residential services system in Ontario.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Sean McGrady
Media Relations and External Communications Specialist
Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
Email: smcgrady@oacas.org