Children and Youth give a high rating to the care provided



    TORONTO, June 21 /CNW/ - "Children and Youth gave a high rating to the
care provided to them in their current placements" concluded the Quality of
Care Review: Children's Aid Society of Toronto by Ontario's Office of Child
and Family Service Advocacy (OCFSA). OCFSA recently conducted 185 interviews
with youth and children in the care of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto
(CAS of Toronto). The OCFSA was "extremely impressed with the quality of care
described by many of the young people interviewed." OCFSA will release its
full recommendations later today. "The review of our Agency emphasizes the
crucial difference foster families and workers can make for children whose
lives have been impacted by child abuse," said Carolyn Buck, Executive
Director.
    The review also pointed out two issues that CAS of Toronto is currently
addressing. Fifty three per cent felt that their workers were easy to reach.
We have instituted a 1-800 number for our youth so that they have easier
access. Youth also need access to their "papers" and legal documents to
protect their residency in Canada. CAS of Toronto has had many discussions
with Citizenship and Immigration Canada about the plight of our youth. Anyone
who has applied for a passport knows the importance of original documents.
Usually in Canada through no choice of their own, our youth can face a life of
uncertainty without the documents that either don't exist or are being kept
from them by relatives. We have thoroughly researched the issue and have
provided best practice policies for our workers as we continue to advocate for
change at a higher level.
    Other recommendations serve as reminders of good practice for our staff.
The report does speak to systemic issues that we cannot address on our own. We
are longtime advocates for youth transitioning from care. They need much more
instrumental support than we can currently provide. "This agency parents
children and youth, it does not carry cases," said Carolyn Buck, "we want to
support our young people until they're ready to be on their own, and 21 is too
young."
    The Advocate also points out that there are no provincially mandated
residential standards to ensure quality. This has been a longstanding concern.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is responsible for licensing group
homes but there is no regulatory body to monitor the overall quality provided
to the residents. CAS's, paid for by special funding from the Ministry of
Finance, collaborated on a provincial approach to create a system with
accountability and quality assurance features. The plan would save money
through supply chain management which would offset the cost of quality
assurance. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services was required to endorse
this proposal before the Ministry of Finance was able to fund it. This was not
done and the funding deadline has passed. "It is a lost opportunity to
redirect resources which could have had a direct impact on quality of care for
our youth," said Carolyn Buck, Co-Chair of the Provincial Committee.

    The Children's Aid Society of Toronto works with children and their
families when children have been or are at risk of being emotionally,
physically, or sexually abused or neglected. The Society also develops and
implements child abuse prevention programs. The Society is one of 53
children's aid societies in Ontario, and it is the largest such organization
in North America. There are approximately 850 staff positions, 725 volunteers
and 324 foster families at the Society. In 2006/2007, we worked with more than
11,835 families and more than 26,491 children. Additionally, more than 3,000
children were in our care on a short or long term basis during the course of
the year. For every child we brought into our care, we helped eight more in
their own home.
    For more information, visit www.TorontoCAS.ca





For further information:

For further information: Melanie Persaud, Manager, Communications, (416)
924-4640, ext 1-2086

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Children's Aid Society of Toronto

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