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Residential Services

Sometimes it's not possible for children and youth with special needs to live at home.

Residential settings include group homes, foster homes, provincially operated facilities and youth justice open and secure custody/detention facilities.

Children and youth may be placed in residential settings by parents, children's aid societies, community access mechanisms or in the case of youth justice, ordered through the courts.

The children and youth come from a variety of backgrounds and may have a multitude of needs. Residential settings provide a range of services from basic accommodation, care and supervision in a family home setting to specialized programs in treatment settings for children and youth with complex special needs or who are medically fragile.

Here are some examples of the types of services provided in some residential settings:

Residential services are provided by a number of service providers who are licensed and/or funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Service providers must meet the requirements and regulations of the Child and Family Services Act.

Safe and Caring Places for Children and Youth:
Ontario’s Blueprint for Building a New System of Licensed Residential Services

In July 2017, Ontario released Safe and Caring Places for Children and Youth: Ontario’s Blueprint for Building a New System of Licensed Residential Services.

The Blueprint is a multi-year plan to reform residential services in the province to provide children and youth with safe and healthy places to live, supporting their growth and helping them reach their full potential. Working collaboratively across child- and youth-serving sectors, we are making fundamental changes so that services are more responsive to the unique needs of children and youth, and improve the quality of their everyday experiences. Changes have already begun and will continue to take place over the next several years. The success of these changes will be measured by how children and youth experience services and the fulfilment of their individual and unique potential.

All of the reform activities outlined in the Blueprint will impact First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and youth that are in care. Through the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy, Ontario is working with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners to co-develop Indigenous-specific and culturally appropriate strategies and approaches to better serve their children and youth.

Developing the Blueprint for Reform

The Residential Services Youth Panel

The voices, experiences and expectations of youth are a cornerstone of the Blueprint. Together with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the ministry established a panel of young people with lived experience of residential services to share their stories and help define quality of care. The youth panel’s input can be found in its report Envisioning Better Care for Youth: Our Input to the Blueprint (download the PDF). Ontario will continue to engage with these young people as we move forward with reform.

Residential Services Review Panel

In May 2016, the Residential Services Review Panel provided advice to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in its report Because Young People Matter. The panel made recommendations regarding improvements to residential services for children and youth, which were critical in shaping the Blueprint.

The Minister released a statement to address the panel’s report.

Learn More

The summary report (PDF) on the findings of the Expert Panel on the Standards of Care for the Administration of Psychotropic Medications to Children and Youth Living in Licensed Residential Settings is now available.

The panel included leading health and social service professionals with expertise in psychotropic drugs and residential services.

Copies of the panel's full report are available by request at requestingreport-expertpanel@ontario.ca.