How We Will Get There – Building a New Child and Youth-Centred Service System

This Blueprint lays out our immediate and short-term actions and outlines our longer-term plans. We are not waiting. We have started by modernizing the legislation that governs licensed residential care. It is essential that the work to improve residential services is collaborative, given the differing and complementary roles and responsibilities of the ministry and our sector partners. The commitment of all partners working together will be central to achieving these changes. For more information see Appendix C: Roles, Responsibilities and Modernized Legislation.

In Partnership...

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies and the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario are undertaking immediate work, with a specific focus on Indigenous children and youth, to:

Short-Term Actions

Pillar 1: Safe and Healthy Places

We begin this work with a focus on making sure that children and youth are living in safe, healthy and welcoming places, and addressing some of the key factors youth told us will improve their everyday experiences and outcomes.

To immediately support the safety and health of children and youth in residential care we are:

In addition, we are improving oversight by:

Pillar 2: A Sense of Belonging

All children and youth need to feel like they belong. The second pillar of our Blueprint focuses on our commitment to establish new standards to improve the quality of care provided by licensees so that children and youth see a difference in their daily experiences. For the first time in the province, we will define quality of care in regulation. We will set minimum expectations related to quality of care, and monitor compliance.

Our framework for quality of care, including the development of regulations, will be based directly on the work of the Residential Services Youth Panel and the quality of care domains they developed.

Youth are key partners in the journey to reform residential services. We want to make sure they are aware of what we are committing to in this Blueprint to improve their everyday experiences. For this reason, we are releasing a child- and youth-friendly resource that uses clear and accessible language so that children and youth can understand what changes are coming in the immediate, short- and long-term as a part of this reform. This resource will be available in English and French and several Indigenous languages (Oji-Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut).

In addition, we will:

Youth: In Their Own Words

"Youth need the ability to have control and agency in the decisions that are being made about them. Feeling like you have impact in your plan of care such as choosing which school you go to or what activities you participate in goes a long way."

Pillar 3: Places and Services to Meet the Needs of Children and Youth

We are also taking action immediately within the current legislative framework, the Child and Family Services Act, to better meet the needs of children and youth in licensed residential care. We are:

To set the foundation for transformational change within the residential services sector in the short-term, we will:

Youth: In Their Own Words

"Youth should be connected to resources, services, opportunities in the greater community to help shape identity. Belonging is connected to feeling like you have a place in your greater community."


Long-Term Actions

Our short-term work will enhance the services currently provided to children and youth. Our long-term work will build from there, to create a new child and youth-centred service system.

The three quality pillars for reform will continue to guide this work. We will continue to leverage transformations underway in the mental health, child welfare, special needs, and youth justice sectors.

1. Effective Service System Planning and Management

Equipped with a greater clarity of definition and scope of residential services, we will develop a provincial service model that will take into account the appropriate variety and distribution of licensed residential services across the province. This work incorporates four major initiatives.

  1. Defining the scope of licensed residential services

    A wide variety of service providers are licensed to provide care. We will further define the specific types of residential care requiring a licence while continuing to explore service delivery approaches that focus on prevention.

    Through the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy, we will work with Indigenous partners to develop specific approaches focused on residential services that meet the unique needs of Indigenous children, youth, families and communities. This will result in First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous communities having greater ability to care for, and make decisions regarding their children and youth.

  2. A provincial approach to service delivery

    Working with our sector partners, we will develop a provincial approach to the planning and delivery of services. This approach will be guided by the principle of prevention and focused on making sure that the right services are available to children and youth at the right time and as close to their home community as possible. As part of this work, we will examine current and emerging trends such as bed capacity, patterns of service provision, and program access and availability.

    Residential services will also be examined to address equitable distribution and to support children and youth to remain in their home communities, particularly for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and youth.

    Youth: In their Own Words

    "Systems need to work together. Different workers are assigned to help young people with different things – for example, tutor, mental health worker, et cetera. But if all these supports worked together to create a coordinated plan, the care would go in one direction and be better. Mental health and education need to work together in this sense especially.”

  3. More effective data and information management

    A new approach to data and information will focus on developing performance indicators to help measure quality across the three quality pillars. They will be publicly reported and inform best practice and continuous improvement in agencies’ placement and programming decisions. They will also support the development of a risk-based approach to licensing, and service providers’ enhanced ability to monitor children and youth across residential placements to better support continuity of care.

    We will examine data that is currently collected, identify what data or information may be needed to measure quality as defined in our new framework, and move forward on standardizing specific data elements across child and youth sectors that provide residential services.

  4. A comprehensive funding review

    The current approach to funding residential services for children and youth is complex. We are committed to creating greater consistency, transparency and equity in funding services.

    To this end, we will undertake a funding review of residential services. It will include an examination of what is currently being funded and to what level, an assessment of the cost of service and the current funding models (including per diems and special rate agreements).

    Any new funding approaches will be in line with proposed changes to service planning and delivery of residential services that are evidence-based and outcomes-focused. A funding review of youth justice services will take into account the unique judicial context within which the sector operates.

2. Accountability and Oversight

We are taking action to improve the quality of care in licensed residential settings in Ontario by strengthening and modernizing licensing, compliance and enforcement. The ministry will:

3. Workforce Development

Some children and youth accessing residential services may have mental health or behavioural challenges, psychiatric disorders, complex medical conditions and/or developmental disabilities. Staff in residential care settings must be competent, skilled, engaged and caring in order to effectively meet the needs of these children and youth.

Therefore, we will develop an action plan that will explore:

The provision of foster care and culturally appropriate placement options are also critical components of residential services, and maintaining an adequate number of foster parents must be a priority. Individuals who are motivated to take on this crucial role in a young person’s life must be supported. Therefore, we will develop a provincial plan to modernize foster care in Ontario, in partnership with stakeholders and youth, including enabling a strong voice for foster parents and clarifying the rules and procedures for fostering. It will address barriers for the recruitment of foster parents from Black and other uniquely situated communities, and caregivers from Indigenous communities.

Youth: In Their Own Words

"Staff in facilities need better training and understanding of the systems of child welfare and how they intersect. All parties involved must understand the intersection between the systems – like child welfare, education, health care access, and public transit."