In working through the development and phasing of our recommendations, the Panel articulated a vision for an optimal residential services system. All recommendations are in alignment with this vision.

We envision residential services across all sectors in Ontario that are characterized, first and foremost, by an abundance of empathy, so that every young person living in out-of-home care feels loved, cared for, and respected. We furthermore envision services in which the voice of young people is the central component of care and treatment, so that every young person feels a strong sense of agency and control in how their lives unfold. Residential care for children and youth in Ontario must provide living arrangements that are experienced as safe and foster relationships with adults and peers that are based on mutual trust, a level of intimacy reflective of family life, and are reliable beyond the date of discharge.

The unique contexts and social locations of Black Youth, LGBTQ2S youth and others are engaged in all residential care, including through the design of physical sites and the everyday living experience as reflected in food, rules, basic needs provisions, and culturally appropriate assessment and intervention approaches. We furthermore envision residential care to reflect a nation-to-nation partnership with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in such a way that all residential care in Ontario is responsive to the needs of aboriginal youth. We envision residential care that names and eliminates racism in all of its manifestations. Care should be inspired by the unique strengths and resilience of young people in out-of-home living arrangements, and aim to inspire these young people to follow their dreams and to prepare them with the skills, emotional strength and social connections to achieve those dreams, while supporting families to remain actively involved in care and planning.

Services place primary emphasis on quality of care. Well-defined standards of care which are common across all services, access to caring, qualified, well trained and appropriately compensated staff and caregivers with a significant voice in service design and planning, and communication and joined planning across all components of each young person’s life-space, contribute to a high quality of care.

All forms of residential care operate as an interconnected continuum of services that are equipped to match services to the needs of each young person. All services and service providers wrap around the youth in care to avoid further disruption. Transitions within and out of care are smooth and effective, and youth feel well supported into adulthood and beyond.

Residential services across Ontario, regardless of mandate or specific sector, are subject to significant, provincially consistent, integrated and quality-oriented oversight by government, that includes engagement on issues of empathy and safety, the everyday experience of young people, and the achievement of outcomes that celebrate the individual strengths and capacities of young people. The system practices a strong and sustainable commitment to producing data that can inform improvements in residential care contexts over time. A culture of continuous quality improvement is fostered.