OACAS has provided its submission to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) to support the 2023 Review of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (CYFSA).
The CYFSA is the primary legislation governing child, youth, and family services that are provided, funded, or licensed by MCCSS. Every five years, the province is required to formally review the CYFSA and publicly report on the findings of the review.
OACAS and its members appreciate the Ontario government’s efforts to engage partners and individuals with experience providing and receiving services, including children’s aid societies, Indigenous Child and Family Well-Being Agencies, and youth with lived and living experience in the Ontario child welfare system.
In the OACAS submission, we identify ways the CYFSA can be improved to truly realize its principles and better support the best interests, protection, safety, and well-being of children and youth. The submission was informed by feedback from our members, as well as youth with lived and living experience. We applaud all those who took the time to share their reflections and insights with OACAS.
As the province considers feedback and develops their public report, we urge Ontario to apply an inclusive, intersectional lens. It is critical to remain mindful of how all dimensions of identity, including sexuality, gender, and gender expression, impact interactions with the systems serving children, youth, and families and access to CYFSA-governed services.
Further, we encourage the province to identify funding measures and opportunities for further investments in community-based supports and services that will bolster the principles of the CYFSA and help achieve its objectives. Enhanced investments in community-based care are essential to ensuring children, youth, and families have access to holistic, wraparound services that will promote their health, safety, and well-being.
Enhanced investments in the human and community services sector are not just critical to the efficacy of the CYFSA. They are also integral to redesigning the Ontario child welfare system and eliminating inequities that contribute to the overrepresentation and disparities in outcomes for Indigenous, Black, racialized, and 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth.
We encourage Ontario to carefully review and consider feedback submitted by children’s aid societies and Indigenous Child and Family Well-Being Agencies across the province alongside sector partners, including children, youth, and families with lived and living experience.
Important advancements have been made since the proclamation of the CYFSA. But there is more work to do. OACAS and its members remain committed to working alongside the province towards an effective child welfare system that supports all children, youth, and families.