Ontario Passes Legislation to Strengthen Child Welfare and Improve Outcomes for Youth
Province Putting Children at the Centre of Decision-Making
Today, Ontario passed legislation to help children and youth across the province thrive and reach their full potential by strengthening and modernizing child, youth and family services.
The Child, Youth and Family Services Act makes significant changes to how Ontario provides services to children and youth in need of protection. It puts young people at the centre of decisions about their care, supports more accountable, responsive and accessible child and youth services and strengthens oversight for children's aid societies and licensed residential services. Key areas of change in the act include:
- Raising the age of protection from 16 to 18 to increase protection services for more vulnerable youth in unsafe living conditions, to support their education and to reduce homelessness and human trafficking
- Making services more inclusive and culturally appropriate for all children and youth, including Indigenous and Black children and youth, to ensure every child receives the best possible support
- Putting a greater focus on early intervention, to help prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home
- Improving accountability and oversight of service providers, including children's aid societies and licensed residential service providers, so that children and youth receive safe, consistent and high-quality services across the province.
Supporting children and youth and helping them reach their full potential is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
- Last year, Ontario’s 38 children’s aid societies and nine Indigenous child wellbeing societies provided services to more than 113,000 families.
- By increasing the age of protection to 18, it is estimated that an additional 1,600 youth will have access to protection services within the first full year of implementation of the Act.
- As part of A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, the province is developing a disaggregated race data collection framework, which will standardize the collection, analysis and reporting of race-based data across public institutions to address systemic racism and advance racial equality, including in the child welfare sector.
- The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies developed the One Vision One Voice practice framework to support better outcomes for Black children and youth involved with Ontario’s child welfare system.
- Ontario committed an additional $134 million over four years in the 2017 budget to support new initiatives in the child welfare sector, grounded in this legislation.
- Read about the new legislation
- Learn more about Ontario’s child protection system
“We listened to people across the province, including young people with experience in care, and used what we heard to strengthen services and better protect and care for Ontario’s most vulnerable young people. Our Child, Youth and Family Services Act puts children and youth at the heart of decision-making and paves the way for services that are more accountable and responsive. These changes are an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote child and family wellbeing.”