Our History

Since its incorporation in 1920, OACAS has tackled many challenges on behalf of Ontario’s children and families and the boards and staff of the Children’s Aid Societies who serve them. During the 1920s, the Association and member societies pressed for the creation of one government department responsible for all public welfare funding and legislation. In 1931, the first Minister of Welfare was appointed. In the mid-1940s, a provincial government grant enabled OACAS to reorganize and hire a full-time, non-volunteer employee, which allowed OACAS to start expanding its services to provide information distribution and member communication.

As OACAS and Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies continued to evolve and expand over the following decades, the level of care and child protection services also advanced. In 1985, the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) was proclaimed by the government, promoting the best interests, protection, and well-being of children. The CYFSA created legislation around the delivery of child welfare services, underscored the responsibility of all citizens to report suspected child abuse, directed that the least disruptive course of action available and appropriate be followed for children and families and recognized where possible that services to children and families be provided in a manner that respects cultural, religious and regional differences. OACAS welcomed the increased formalization and transparency of child welfare in Ontario and worked alongside their members to ensure the culture of the legislation was reflected in training and practice.

In 2003, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services was formed to coordinate services for families with children. OACAS increased their advocacy and government relations role for Children’s Aid Societies and spent more time with the government to improve the lives of Ontario’s children and youth.

On June 1, 2017, Bill 89: Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2016, introduced by the Minister of Children and Youth Services (MCCSS) in December 2016, received royal assent in the Ontario Legislature. Bill 89 introduces historic amendments to the Child, Youth and Family Services Act and is the culmination of the 2015 mandatory legislative review – the third review since the legislation was amended in 2000. The new Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA), which came into effect April 30, 2018, governs a range of service sectors in addition to child welfare, including youth justice and residential services. The legislation puts children and youth at the centre of decision-making, and supports more accountable, responsive and accessible child, youth and family services. It also strengthens oversight for Children’s Aid Societies and licensed residential services.

The CYFSA reflects many of OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies advocacy efforts: raising the age of protection to 18, a legislative framework for information access and privacy, recognition of extra-provincial protection orders, personal liability coverage for board governors and supports for older youth.