The primary goal of Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) is to support children to live safely with their family of origin. When that is not possible, CASs look for another family to provide safety, security, and support. This can be temporary while the parents are working to address the circumstances preventing the child from living at home. It can also be longer term, requiring the young person to come into care until other lifelong connections can be found.

Child welfare is increasingly turning to kin families for children and youth who need an outside placement while their caregivers address their challenges. Last year an average of 29% of children needing out of home placements lived with kinship families. Kin providers can be other family members or they can be individuals who are familiar to the child, youth, or parent and can provide a safe, nurturing home. Kinship families permit children and youth to remain connected with their family, extended family, heritage, culture, and traditions. This helps build a sense of belonging, safety, and security for children.

About Kinship

What is kinship service?

Kin are individuals who have a relationship with a child or youth and may include biologically related kin or individuals without a biological connection but with a significant social connection. Examples include a stepparent, godparent, friend, teacher, coach and neighbour.

Kinship service occurs when a child or youth is placed in the home of an approved kin but the child does not have “in-care” status.

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What is kinship care?

Kinship care refers to the day-to-day care and nurturing of children by relatives or others described as family by a child’s immediate family members for children who are in need of protection. It can include an approved family member, godparent, stepparent, familiar friend, or community member who has a blood or existing relationship with a child or youth in care.

Kinship options are always explored for children who are in need of protection prior to having a child placed in foster care or a group home. Sometimes children need to be placed in temporary foster care while the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) seeks kin.

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What is customary care in Ontario?

First Nation, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) family structures differ from the typical nuclear family in Western culture. FNMI families have strong family values, are often extended, and share collective responsibility towards children. FNMI families may be related by blood, but can also be tied by clan or other social structures. This collective responsibility for raising children is known as customary care.


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Watch Sarnia Children’s Aid Society’s video on the importance of kin and to see kin family in action.