Young People At Risk are Achieving Improved Outcomes

Child Protection Services

Child protection services help children and youth who have been or are at risk of being abused or neglected grow up in safer, more stable, caring environments. In 2015-16, the ministry now funds 47 Children's Aid Societies (CASs), including nine Aboriginal CASs, to perform the following functions: investigate allegations of child abuse, neglect and/or risk of harm; provide protection services to children and prevention/protection services designed to strengthen the ability of families to safely care for their children; provide and supervise alternate living arrangements when children cannot remain safely at home; and facilitate adoptions.

The former Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare submitted its final report to the ministry in September 2012. Based on the commission's key recommendations and discussions with the sector, the ministry implemented a new funding model and new approach to accountability in 2013-14.

The funding model allocates funds based on a combination of socio-economic and volume-based factors. These factors reflect the relative need for child protection services in each community, the services that CASs provide, and the commitments made to children in care.

The new approach to accountability broadens the focus from compliance and financial management to include measuring and reporting on outcomes for children and youth and organizational capacity. This is being facilitated through the introduction of several mechanisms, including:

  • Collection of Performance Indicators (PIs) in all CASs;
  • Public reporting of five PIs;
  • Cyclical reviews to facilitate an assessment of a CAS's performance and capacity to improve;
  • Performance management strategy to recognize CAS performance that exceeds expectations and to identify opportunities for improvement where performance does not meet expectations; and
  • Accountability Agreements between the ministry and each CAS.

Regulation 70 of the Child and Family Services Act requires CASs to submit a budget plan demonstrating that they can manage within their approved budget allocations. The Accountability Agreements require that CASs operate within their approved budget allocations.

Starting in 2014-15, the ministry has set up the Balanced Budget Fund to support CASs in meeting the balanced budget requirement set out in Regulation 70 and in proactively managing the risks associated with the multi-year budget planning process. Through the Balanced Budget Fund, CASs may request access to their prior year surpluses under certain circumstances to balance their budgets.

In 2015-16, the ministry continues to support the collection of PIs in all CASs, the public reporting on five PIs, cyclical reviews and the performance management strategy, and the implementation of two-year Accountability Agreements between the ministry and each CAS.

The ministry is working collaboratively with the Ministry of Education (EDU) on initiatives to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in care and those who receive services from CASs. In 2015, a provincial template for a Joint Protocol for Student Achievement (JPSA) was released to facilitate collaboration between CASs and school boards to support educational success for children and youth. The ministry and EDU are also working together to develop data sharing agreements between EDU and CASs to monitor the educational outcomes of children and youth in care and those who receive services from CASs.

The sector is also working with the Ministry of Government Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to develop a comprehensive program of shared services, including back-office and service delivery functions, to enhance capacity, value for money, and service quality of individual CASs and the entire sector.

Work will continue on the implementation of the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN) to modernize the province's child protection system. The new information system helps agencies more easily manage case files and finances, share information with each other, make decisions for the children they serve, and make it possible to track and report on outcomes.

CPIN was declared ready for use in June 2014 and was implemented at five CASs by the end of 2014-15. 5,355 families being served by CASs (20% of families in the child protection system across Ontario) are recorded and are actively being supported in the CPIN system.

The ministry will continue working with the child protection sector to develop tools and initiatives to help achieve the goals of prevention, permanency and preparation for life for all children and youth receiving child protection services.

In 2015-16, the ministry will invest $1.6 billion in Child Protection Services.

Reducing Poverty

The ministry has continued to focus on initiatives that mitigate the effects of poverty for children and youth and that reduce child poverty in our province. Highlights include:

  • 47,000 children and their families have been lifted out of poverty between 2008 and 2011;
  • About one million children in over 500,000 families are being helped by the Ontario Child Benefit. In addition, indexing the Ontario Child Benefit to keep pace with inflation which will result in the maximum annual child benefit increasing to $1,336 per child as of July 1, 2015; and
  • Starting in 2014, investing $32 million over three years to expand the Student Nutrition Program to serve about 56,000 more school-aged children and youth. During the 2013-14 school year, the program served more than 756,000 children and youth.

Ontario Child Benefit and Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent

The Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) is a non-taxable, income-tested financial benefit that helps with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. In 2015-16, about one million children, in over 500,000 low- to moderate-income families will receive the benefit. The maximum benefit will increase to $1,336 per child per year in July 2015 from $1,310 per year, when the OCB is indexed to the Ontario Consumer Price Index. To be eligible for the benefit, parents need to file their annual income taxes and register for the Canada Child Tax Benefit.

The ministry will also continue to provide funding to CASs equivalent to the maximum OCB for children and youth in the care of CASs and in Formal Customary Care. This funding helps provide access to recreational, educational, cultural, and social opportunities such as tutoring and skills building to these children and youth. Older youth also participate in a savings program to help them prepare for independence and the transition to adulthood. These youth gain access to their savings when they leave care.

In 2015-16, the ministry will invest $1.1 billion in the Ontario Child Benefit and $19.7 million in the Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent.

Youth Justice Services

In 2015-16, the ministry will continue to provide evidence-informed community and custodial programs, ranging from diversion to reintegration of youth after detention or custody. Fewer youth continue to come into custody, with the majority of youth receiving service/supervision in the community including diversion, rehabilitation, probation and supports for youth with mental health needs.

Youth who are placed in custody and detention facilities are given the opportunity to participate in educational and rehabilitative programs that help them develop the skills they need to achieve success in the community. Programs include skills development, substance abuse counselling, life skills and anger management. Probation officers will continue to provide case management support to youth who have been sentenced by the courts and will work with youth in detention to enhance the transition to community supports and services.

The ministry will build on its achievements, strengthen response to special populations, and foster continuous improvement in the youth justice service system. Priorities include evidence-informed programs and services; responding to special populations (Aboriginal, mental health, gender); maintaining probation officer support to youth in detention by providing an individualized community release plan that assists a youth's transition to the community; using a strengths-based approach to probation case management; improving educational outcomes for youth in the youth justice system; developing a multi-year strategy to work with gang-involved youth residing in identified custody facilities; optimizing the use of youth justice facilities; improving capacity to report on outcomes for youth as a result of service; projects and collaboration for opportunities for a broader system-level approach to prevention/diversion; and improved coordination/collaboration for youth who require supports from multiple programs/sectors.

In 2015-16, the ministry will invest $366.2 million in Youth Justice Services.

Residential Services

Children and youth may be placed in residential care as a result of a court order under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), a temporary care agreement, or being in conflict with the law. Other children and youth may be placed in residential care as a result of treatment needs associated with developmental and physical challenges, medically-fragile conditions, behavioural difficulties, mental health issues or substance abuse.

Residential services are largely provided through group homes or foster care settings or youth justice custody/detention facilities. In 2014-15, the ministry funded approximately 3,300 beds in 434 group homes, approximately 12,000 beds in more than 7,500 foster homes, and capacity for approximately 816 beds in youth justice dedicated residential settings.