Were you a crown ward at any time from the period January 1, 1966 until March 30, 2017?

Learn about the class action lawsuit certified on behalf of crown wards.

Children’s aid society services

Children’s aid societies provide child protection services and are governed by the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017, (CYFSA).

Children’s aid societies are responsible for:

  • investigating reports of abuse or neglect of children under 18 and where necessary, taking steps to protect them
  • looking after children under their care or supervision
  • counselling and supporting families and placing children for adoption

All children’s aid societies must comply with the Child Protection Standards when providing services to children, youth and their families.

Determining if a child is in need of protection

Children and youth come to be involved with children’s aid societies for a variety of reasons. To determine a child’s eligibility for child protection services societies use a standardized tool called the Ontario Child Welfare Eligibility Spectrum.

If an investigation is required

When a society receives a report that a child is or may be in need of protection, the society will apply the Ontario Child Welfare Eligibility Spectrum to determine whether an investigation is required. If a society concludes that an investigation is required, they must follow the Ontario Child Protection Standards when conducting the investigation. Child protection workers must follow the Ontario Child Protection Standards at each stage of a case — from intake and investigation to ongoing case management and closure of the case.

If a child is in need of protection

If a child is in need of protection, children’s aid societies will provide children and families with services and support, including referrals to community partners, to address any concerns and to try, wherever possible, to prevent children and youth from going into care.

When a child enters into the care of a children’s aid society, the society will work with the child and family to address any concerns so that, if possible, the child can return home safely.

Placement options for children and youth in care

Children and youth who cannot return home will require a placement in another setting such as a foster home or a group home. The placement is selected based on many factors, including the child’s needs, the child’s views and wishes and the child’s identity. A children’s aid society will also consider the options available in the child or youth’s extended family and community.

Finding permanent homes for children and youth in care – providing them with safe, nurturing, stable relationships as well as opportunities for growth and development – is key to improving their outcomes. Such permanency options include;

  • Legal custody: when legal custody of a child in extended society care is granted by a court to one or more persons, who may include a foster parent. Once a legal custody order is made, the child or youth is no longer in children’s aid society care.
  • Adoption: a permanent and final court order establishing that the adopted child becomes the child of the adoptive parent and the adoptive parent becomes the parent of the adopted child.

The other range of placement options for children and youth who are in need of protection and who are in the care of a children’s aid society includes:

  • Foster care: a family-based placement option for a child or youth.
  • Kinship care: a form of foster care where a child who is in the care of a children’s aid society is placed with a relative or member of the child’s community.
  • Group care: placing a child or youth in a children’s residence or a staff model home (for example, a group home). There are two options, a:
    • staff model that provides care to three or more unrelated children,
    • parent model that provides care to five or more unrelated children.

Customary care is a culturally appropriate form of care that is available for Indigenous children and youth who are in need of protection. Customary care is the care and supervision of a First Nations, Inuit or Métis child or youth by a person who is not the child’s parent, according to the custom of the child’s band or First Nations, Inuit or Métis community.

Report child abuse and neglect

In Ontario, you are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, you must report it to a children's aid society.

Learn about how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.

Review a decision by a children’s aid society

Learn how to ask the Ontario Child and Family Services Review Board to review a decision made by a children’s aid society.

How to make a complaint

If you have a question or concern about services from a children’s aid society, you can talk to the worker who is helping you, the worker’s supervisor or someone else at the society.

You also have the right to make a formal complaint at any time. Societies are required to establish an internal panel to review formal complaints submitted in writing.

Learn how to make a complaint about a children’s aid society, including an Indigenous society.

Your society may also offer alternate complaints processes, such as an Elders Forum.

Ontario Ombudsman

The Ontario Ombudsman oversees and investigates more than 1,000 provincial government and broader public sector bodies. The Ombudsman’s office is responsible for investigating complaints about services provided by children’s aid societies and residential licensees.

Learn more about the complaints process.

Find a children’s aid society location

A list of the children's aid societies is available through the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.

There are 50 children's aid societies across Ontario, including 13 Indigenous societies. Each society is an independent, non-profit organization run by a board of directors elected from the local community or, in the case of two Indigenous societies, band councils.

Class action on behalf of crown wards

Were you a crown ward at any time from the period January 1, 1966 until March 30, 2017? If so, you may be a class member in the class action which has now been certified by the court. The lawsuit seeks money (damages) and other benefits for class members.

  • Class Members are automatically included in the class action, unless they take steps to exclude themselves (opt out) by March 11, 2018. If you want to stay in the class action, do not opt out.
  • If you opt out, you will not be part of the lawsuit and you will not be able to share in any money or any other benefit obtained for the class if the lawsuit is successful.
  • This lawsuit does not impact your ability to seek compensation now from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board or from any other person other than the Province of Ontario.

Get more information about this class action and your rights, or contact us at ocwclassaction@kmlaw.ca or Toll-free: 1-877-739-8936.

Government’s role

The government does not provide child protection services directly to children and families. We monitor children’s aid societies, provide funding and develop policies to support:

Child Protection Information Network

The Child Protection Information Network (CPIN) is a single, provincewide case, financial and document management system.

CPIN supports child safety by providing children’s aid societies with the ability to access information about children who have received services using a single case file for a child. No matter where that child lives or moves to in Ontario, child protection workers can access previous case history and service plans, without needing to ask children to re-tell their stories unnecessarily.

With a complete view of all services a child received, workers can make better informed decisions about the children and families they serve.

CPIN is hosted in a secure Ontario Government facility and societies must have security practices and policies in place to protect child welfare data.

Children’s aid societies performance indicators

We’re working with children’s aid societies to:

  • improve outcomes for children and youth receiving child welfare services
  • strengthen accountability across the child welfare sector

We’re doing this by collecting information on five key performance indicators that reflect the safety, permanency and well-being of children and youth in local communities.

Learn more about the children’s aid performance indicators.