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Explaining the Foster System in Ontario:

What is the definition of foster care?

Foster care refers to the act of welcoming a child into one’s family and providing them with essential needs and emotional support during a challenging and uncertain period. According to the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, foster care involves placing a child or young person in the home of an individual who receives compensation for their care but is not their biological parent. Ontario’s Children Aid Societies (CASs) strive to keep families intact and children in their homes. However, when concerns about a child’s safety and protection become severe, foster families temporarily care for the child until they can safely return home.

What are the advantages of foster care?

Fawziyah Chandsa foster careFoster care offers children and youth a secure family environment during times of crisis. In many cases, it provides crucial support that allows parents to address issues that endanger their children’s safety and well-being. In most situations, children placed in foster care are eventually reunited with their families after their parents’ parenting skills have improved with the assistance of CASs and community partners. For some children whose parents are unwilling or unable to meet their needs, foster care can provide safety, stability, and overall well-being.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services formally recognizes long-term foster care as a permanent option for certain children in care. Not all children under CAS care are suitable for or interested in adoption, kinship care, or legal custody. Many of these children find permanence and a sense of belonging with their long-term foster families.

Who are the children in foster care?

  • Every foster child is unique.
  • They are children residing in your community.
  • They range from infants to young adults.
  • They can be single children or part of a sibling group.
  • They come from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Who are foster parents?

  • Individuals who have a desire to become parents.
  • Single individuals.
  • Couples.
  • People who wish to contribute to the well-being of children and youth in their community.
  • People from various religious backgrounds.
  • People from diverse cultural backgrounds.

How does foster care operate?

Children may require foster care for short periods, such as a few days, a week, several months, or even years. Foster parents collaborate with Children’s Aid staff as a team to develop and support a care plan for each child or youth in their care. The primary goal is to reunite the child or youth with their biological family. However, if this is not possible, alternative permanency options such as adoption, kinship care, customary care, legal custody by a family member or foster parent, or independent living may be explored. Foster parents provide stability and a nurturing home environment that fosters the growth and well-being of the child or youth.

In Ontario, all foster care applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

Complete a structured home study called SAFE (Structured Analysis, Family Evaluation).

Complete pre-service training known as PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education).

Page References:

  1. Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. (2022). Fostering – Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.