Children and youth licensed residential services
Learn about licensed residential settings for children and youth and how we’re making changes to strengthen the care delivered by licensees to children and youth. Learn about our 12 quality standards and our efforts to help children and youth better understand their rights under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017.
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Licensed residential services
In Ontario, persons or corporations must be licensed to provide residential care where certain criteria are met under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (CYFSA).
Residential licensees are responsible for delivering care and ensuring compliance with all licensing requirements. They are expected to provide high-quality care and meet the needs of children and young persons placed there.
Residential care is provided by:
- organizations with a direct contractual relationship with the (MCCSS), and are:
- licensed under the CYFSA
- funded to provide such care
- for example, group homes, foster care and staff model homes
- for-profit or not-for-profit organizations or individuals that do not have a direct contractual relationship with MCCSS but are licensed to provide residential care under the CYFSA, for example: group homes, foster care and staff-model homes.
Residential settings operated by the ministry
There are also residential settings that are directly operated by MCCSS to provide residential care to children and youth. These settings are not licensed under the CYFSA but must comply with the requirements for licensed residential settings. They are subject to compliance reviews by the ministry.
Children and youth who receive residential care
Children and youth receive residential care for a variety of reasons, including:
- children in need of protection
- youth in conflict with the law
- children with special needs, such as developmental disabilities
- other medical complexities such as autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
- children with mental health needs
- respite services to support families
Under the CYFSA, inspectors are appointed to conduct licensing inspections, which includes entering and inspecting any residential setting that is licensed or is required to be licensed, including individual foster homes. Ministry inspectors conduct announced and unannounced inspections of licensed residential settings.
Child welfare redesign: quality of care
The quality of care pillar under the child welfare redesign strategy focuses on improving the quality of care that children and youth receive in licensed residential setting. The long-term vision is an Ontario where all children and youth receive the high-quality services and supports they need to succeed and thrive. Implementing the Quality Standards Framework (QSF) is key to helping achieve this goal.
We’re also focusing efforts in several other areas, including:
- improving the ministry’s accountability and oversight of licensed residential settings to better support licensees in delivering high-quality residential care
- enhancing training and qualification requirements, including for the use of physical restraint and less intrusive intervention measures, for persons providing residential care, including staff and caregivers
- prioritizing family-based care as a placement option for children whose needs can be accommodated in those settings to promote better outcomes
- supporting the intentional use of group care as a placement option for children and young persons whose needs require a more structured and/or treatment-based setting.
Ontario’s Quality Standards Framework (QSF)
The QSF provides an overview of what high-quality residential care looks like across all sectors and settings that make up licensed residential services, such as child welfare, youth justice, child and youth mental health, and special needs for children and youth in Ontario.
The QSF is an educational tool that provides guidance on the many aspects of high-quality care that are necessary to support vulnerable children and youth in residential care and help to meet their needs, support them to thrive and achieve better outcomes.
Through its 12 quality standards, the QSF lays the foundation and vision for the improvements we’re proposing to licensed residential services in Ontario as part of the quality of care pillar.
Background on the Quality Standards Framework
The QSF was developed in response to a recommendation from the Office of the Chief Coroner’s expert panel report, Safe with Intervention, for MCCSS to establish quality standards for all residential placements. The QSF is based on feedback from a panel of 12 youth with lived experience in residential care. Over a 16-month period, the ministry worked with these youth to better understand what quality of care means to them.
The 12 quality standards
The 12 quality standards are:
- informed placement decisions
- individualized care
- rights and complaints
- healthy relationships
- staff and caregivers
- health and well-being
- access to the internet
- supported transitions
Implementation of the Quality Standards Framework
To support implementation of the framework, we have:
- included components of the QSF into regulations and directives under the CYFSA
- released free training to help the sector better understand and apply the QSF
- released a child-friendly website and poster, The Care You Deserve, to help children and young persons understand the quality standards
The QSF-associated regulations came into effect on July 1, 2023, and include amendments which focus on:
- introducing qualifications for frontline staff and supervisors, and training requirements for foster parents, to better equip staff and caregivers to support children and young persons
- increasing safety measures for children and young persons
- improving service planning, including before a child or young person’s admission to a placement and at transitions
- enhancing youth voices in the care they receive
- supporting fairer, impartial, transparent and objective complaints mechanisms for children, young persons and their families
- providing authority for the minister to issue directives to protect the health of children and young persons receiving services
These regulations are intended to support service providers to deliver high quality individualized care for children and youth that recognizes their strengths and encompasses all aspects of their lives and well-being. All publicly available materials released to support implementation of the QSF and the regulations are accessible on the SOR-RL training portal.
Children and young persons’ rights resource
The Children and young persons’ rights resource is designed to support children and youth receiving services under the CYFSA to better understand their rights in language they can understand. Parents, caregivers and staff can use this resource to support and understand the rights of children and young persons.
Part II of the CYFSA: Children’s and Young Person’s Rights outlines the rights of all children receiving services, as well as the additional rights for children in care, for example: group care, foster care or youth justice facilities.
Part X of the CYFSA: Personal Information outlines the rules related to when service providers collect, use and share their personal information.
Training on use of physical restraint
The use of physical restraint is an extremely intrusive measure that is prohibited under the CYFSA unless authorized by the regulations.
The CYFSA defines what a physical restraint is andprohibits its use unless it is in accordance with regulations. Part of the requirements in regulation are that persons who provide direct care to a child or young person must be trained in the use of physical restraint and less intrusive intervention measures before they may use physical restraint.
For a service provider that is licensed to operate a children’s residence, the training program on the use of physical restraint that is used must be MCCSS-approved. For all other service providers, it is strongly recommended that a ministry-approved training program be used where training is required.
Ministry-approved list of training programs
The ministry recently updated its list of approved training programs following review by a panel of subject-matter experts. Service providers will have until July 1, 2022 to transition to a new physical restraint training program if required. Service providers should contact their regional office representative and/or training provider if they have any questions.
The following training programs are ministry approved as of July 1, 2022:
|Ministry-approved training program||Contact Information|
Nonviolent Crisis Intervention
Nonviolent Crisis Intervention With Advanced Physical Skills
(please note that abridged programs are not ministry-approved)
Crisis Prevention Institute
|Crisis Intervention Training Program (for children and youth)|
Safe Management Group Inc.
|Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI)|
SafeGuards Training for Children and Adult Services (in partnership with the Residential Child Care Project, Cornell University)
Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour (UMAB)
Hy'N'hancement Consulting Inc.
As of July 1, 2022, please note that the following programs will no longer be ministry-approved:
- Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviour
- Crisis Intervention with the Hostile and Aggressive Individual by Canadian Training Institute
For information regarding training programs for adult developmental services, please refer to training on the prevention and use of physical restraints.
Contact a regional office
If anyone has a concern about a licensed residential setting in Ontario, they should contact their local ministry regional office.
Making a complaint
Report child abuse and neglect
- The Residential Services Youth Panel Report Envisioning Better Care for Youth: Our Input into the Blueprint Report (2017)
- The Residential Services Review Panel Report Because Young People Matter (2016)
- The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Report Searching for Home (2016)
- The Office of the Chief Coroner’s Expert Panel Report Safe with Intervention (2018)
- Blueprint for Fundamental Change to Ontario’s Child Welfare System, Final Report of the Youth Leaving Care Working Group (2013)