Ontario has over 40 Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) whose job it is to respond to complaints about children being abused or neglected. Most of the time they try their best to keep kids with their families unless it is absolutely necessary to remove them from their home.
Contrary to some people’s belief, CAS does not get money for kids coming into the system – their funding is NOT based on each child in care. In fact, it makes more sense financially to help maintain the biological or legal family for as long as possible.
CAS also have their own foster homes which are licensed in the exact same manner as an agency like Annie’s Havens. The video on this tab gives a quick summary of the difference between CAS and agency foster care. NOTE: From the USA but same principles apply.
There a more than 40 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario. They are typically responsible for child welfare in the region they reside (i.e. Durham CAS is responsible for the Durham Region). They are non-profit private organizations who receive direct funding from the MCYS and additional funds through their charity.
When they receive a complaint from the community (i.e. school, neighbour, family member) about the welfare of a child they assess if an investigation is required. If they choose to investigate the outcome could lead to ongoing work with the family to improve the situation or, if there is a safety concern, they may remove the child(ren) from the home.
Children’s Aid has their own foster homes and will see if they have an appropriate space for incoming children. If there is no appropriate option, the CAS will refer the child to other agencies such as Annie’s Havens. This usually means that the lowest needs children go to CAS foster homes.
Investigations In Ontario, the responsibility for child welfare investigations lay with the Children’s Aid Societies. As stated above, investigations don’t necessarily lead to children being removed from their home.
Investigations can also happen to foster homes. Sometimes, if an allegation is serious, all foster children may be temporarily placed in other homes until the investigation is complete.
While investigations are very stressful and the allegations may be false, it is important for Children’s Aid to have this authority to keep children safe.
Guardianship Most of the time a Children’s Aid will have guardianship of the child in care. This is not always the case but it is most often. Guardianship means that the CAS has to give their support for school placement, medical direction and any other situation where consent is needed and the child is unable to give consent on their own.
Since the CAS has guardianship, foster parents understand that while they are the primary caregiver, their authority on certain matters is limited.
Foster Care Provision Children’s Aid has a very highly regarded training program for new foster homes called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education). They are the sole license holders for this training in Ontario outside of adoption. It is approximately 40+ hours of course material.
Adoptions There are private adoption agencies in Ontario. All public adoptions are carried out by the Children’s Aid Societies. This means that all foster children who are elligible for adoption have their adoption handled by their CAS.
Annie’s Havens foster parents can adopt their foster children too and many have done so. The adoption is done through CAS even though our parents are fostering for our agency.