Foster Care

What is foster care?

Foster care is one option for providing homes for children who can't live safely with their own parents or caregivers. Foster parents provide the day-to-day care for a child on behalf of a children's aid society.

Why do children come into foster care?

There are many reasons. Children can be placed in foster care:

  • by a children's aid society for the child's protection
  • voluntarily by their parents or caregivers
  • by court order

This can happen where:

  • there's a family situation that could place the child at risk
  • a parent is ill or not available and can't make other arrangements for the child's care
  • the child has been neglected, abused or abandoned

Who are the children in foster care?

Every foster child is unique. They can:

  • range from infants to young people up to 18 years old
  • come from a variety of cultural, economic and religious backgrounds
  • may have special physical, developmental, emotional or mental needs

How long are children in foster care?

It depends. Sometimes it's only for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. Sometimes it's longer. The society works towards reuniting the child with his or her parents. But this isn't always possible. In some cases, what's best for the child may be long-term foster care, customary care, legal custody or adoption.

About foster parents

Foster parents:

  • come from all walks of life
  • all kinds of educational, cultural and religious backgrounds
  • can be individuals or couples
  • can be part of a child's extended family
  • can be a part of the child's community, such as a teacher or a First Nation's band member

What they have in common is a genuine desire to help children and young people. Foster parents provide a stable and caring home that encourages a child's growth and development.

About foster care in Ontario

  • The Ministry of Children and Youth Services licenses and funds Ontario's foster care system.
  • Ontario's children aid societies often provide foster care.
  • Foster homes can care for up to four children at a time.
  • The needs of the child determine the level of care within the foster home. The rates paid to foster parents depend on the type of care being provided.

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent?

Your first step is to contact your local children's aid society.

Visit the website of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies to find the address and phone number of the one nearest you.

Learn more

Support for Grandparents Caring for Children in need of Protection