About foster care

Foster care provides homes for children and youth up to 18 who are not able to reside with their parents or caregivers and are unable to live independently.

Children may be placed in an out of home family-based placement by a children’s aid society when the child has been placed in the society’s care:

  • voluntarily by their parents or caregivers
  • by court order

Foster care placements include family-based placement options for children and youth in Ontario, where the goal is to reunite children with their family. Foster care options can include:

  • kinship care, where a child has been admitted into the care of a children’s aid society and is placed with a relative or member of the child’s community
  • customary care, where a First Nations, Inuk or Metis child is cared for by a person who is not the child’s parent, according to the customs of the child’s band or First Nation, Inuit or Métis community
  • options for kinship service placements, where a child is placed with a relative or member of the child’s extended family or community with the consent of the child’s parent or caregiver, pursuant to a supervision order made by the court or during the application process for legal custody (this means the child is not admitted into the care of the children’s aid society)

Children’s aid societies are required to pursue a plan for customary care as a culturally appropriate placement option for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth who:

  • are in need of protection
  • cannot remain at home
  • are a member of or identify with a band or First Nation, Inuit or Métis community

Extended society care and other permanent options

Children’s aid societies work to reunite the child with their parents when it’s safe and possible to do so. If this is not possible, the child may be placed in extended society care by court order.

Before or after an extended society care order is made, a children’s aid society might explore other permanent options such as customary care, legal custody or adoption.

What it means to be a foster parent

One or more foster parents provide the day-to-day care for a child on behalf of a foster care licensee, such as a children's aid society. Licenses to provide foster care are issued by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017.

Becoming a foster parent can be a challenging, rewarding and fulfilling experience. Foster parents should provide a stable and caring home that encourages a child's growth and development.

Foster parents can be representative of all populations in Ontario, including cultural and religious backgrounds, marital status and financial income. Foster parents should also have a genuine desire to contribute to a child or youth’s wellbeing and to their community.

Foster parents can be a relative or a member of a child’s or youth’s community (kinship care).

Foster parents in Ontario can provide a foster home to up to four children at a time, subject to a few exceptions. Children may remain under the care of foster parents for brief or extended periods of time.

How to become a foster parent

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, the first step is to contact your local children's aid society or a licensed foster care agency. They will help you complete the required steps. You must do a mandatory homestudy assessment and parent preparation training to be approved as a foster caregiver.

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies also provides detailed information about fostering.