Child Welfare and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society
Child Welfare and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto
Child welfare in Canada refers to a system of services that have essentially been created by territorial and provincial governments in Canada, in some instances along with private partnerships or private organizations with an aim of providing services, or substituting for otherwise lacking proper parental care and supervision. These organizations are referred to as children’s aid societies, with each province in Canada having a system of child welfare services that is well established. These organizations are mainly mandated to remedy or prevent problems that may lead to children being abused, neglected, exploited or delinquency. These organizations also offer out of home care, in the form of adoption services, group home care, or foster care, for those children who have to be relocated from their homes for one reason or another. Further, these organizations also usually provide support services for families which experience difficulties of one kind or another in caring for their children.
Contemporary child welfare services focus not only on the behaviors of the parents and their children, but also on the variety of environmental and social difficulties that may hamper the well-being of the families in focus. In particular, the biggest concern when it comes to the social difficulties is poverty, not just for child welfare in Canada but across the world amongst most civilized nations. Children’s Aid Societies abbreviated as CAS, are therefore independent organizations that have been tasked with promoting the best interests, well being and interests of children. Although these organizations usually receive some form of funding from the governments concerned, they are regarded as NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) and therefore, are largely autonomous. In most cases, these aid societies are authorized through provincial legislation to: investigate any evidence or reports of neglect or abuse of children (mostly under the age of 16), provide care and supervision for children under their care, remove children at risk and place them for adoption, or other forms of out of home care. In addition, children’s aid societies are also mandated by law, to provide counseling services to families to prevent the occurrence of situations that may require the protection of children.
A number of factors have over the years contributed to the emergence of child welfare as a viable option for combating a number of social ills currently facing society, especially children. From the earliest periods on record, children were regarded as the property of their fathers, to be sold, bought and at times even put to death at the behest of their fathers. Until recently, the involvement of the state in such cases was quite minimal, and actually begun with the rise of philanthropic and religious organizations offering neglected, abandoned and orphaned children help and care. Such organizations established training schools, orphanages and poor houses in an attempt to shape such children into literate, disciplined and industrious citizens. In Canada, social problems such as child labor, immigrant children and social security, contributed to the rise of such charitable organizations. With time, these philanthropic organizations became widespread leading to the need for legislation governing their operations, more so considering that the number of children operating under undesirable circumstances is also growing. The first children’s aid society established was established in Toronto in 1891, with Ontario passing the first Child Protection Act in 1893. The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto is one such organization (Albert & Herbert, n.d).
Catholic Children’s Aid Society Of Toronto
Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto aims at providing highest quality service to children and families in Toronto. The agency is established under the fact that providing health facilities, good parenthood and basic requirement to children will help in building the society and also limit crime. The activities of the agency are governed by the child and Family Act of Canada which monitors child welfare and family programs (Korbin, 1983).
In 1894 Remy Elmsley a member of St. Vincent de Paul Society and son of John Elmsley began patronage of children in Toronto Catholic Church. They assisted in providing financial assistance; counseling and parental care to different children especially orphaned or rejected children. Later, the same year Remy recruited a few other professional workers to assist in his works of charity. With continued increase he felt the need to include the St. Vincent church in the patronage program and they formed The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The society was managed and completely run by the church but 1946 it became an independent agency which would make its works schedules and decision. Following these operational and managerial changes the name was changed to Catholic children’s Aid Society. This meant that the agency could focus on assisting children from different areas of Toronto and not members of St. Vincent church only. Five years later the agency recorded to have placed 418 children who were orphaned, neglected or abandoned in homes. It also assisted children who had criminal behaviors by attending court hearings. According to a report from The Central Council of Toronto 1994 the agency worked though its agents and attended 259 court cases by the end of the previous year (Crosson-Tower, 2008). From these cases the agency managed to assist 332 children by placing them under strict guidance and counseling programs which were quite successful expect for two children who had to be placed under industrial Schools. For the years the Catholic Aid society of Toronto has been in operation, it has assisted many especially improving child welfare and providing moral guidance and value of families (Fuller, 2005).
Catholic children Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS) aims at providing an environment and service delivery program that is free from oppression and racism. The program will provide a safe environment for children and their families thus building a strong community of Toronto. The mission of the agency is to prevent children from abuse and neglect. It also reduces situations that can lead to child abuse by strengthening and supporting families. Another major mission for the agency is to provide nurturing care for both children and the youth (Friedman, 1993).
3) Services or programs
The services or programs of the agency are mainly structured to assist children and youth in Toronto. By helping these two groups achieve quality life, the agency also pays attention to family stability. The main programs of the agency include: legal support for children or youth in delinquency courts by providing professional legal assistance and rehab. The rehab program is also useful for drug abuse cases such as alcohol abuse. Counseling services are also available to all children it different challenges be it school, social, family or behavior challenges. As a long term assistance program, the agency structured a program that focuses on skills training and mentorship. In the recent past the agency has also started minor programs such as teen pregnancy support, financial solutions and language translation. All programs offered by the agency are available to all children, youth and families without any form of bias.
4) Funding statistics
Funding of the Catholic children agency comes from the government of Ontario and from the public. The government thorough the Ministry Children and Youth services renders fund to the agency. The government supports child welfare programs and family support and by strengthening the agency this programs are supported and monitored. The public also provides donation though individual support or through other charitable communities. Though the agency does not have strong financiers, it is able to efficiently operate and provide quality services. This is partially because it is under the Income Tax Act and is registered as a charity society, hence exempted from income taxes.
The CCA agency is located in Toronto Ontario. The central branch is located in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul where the agency first began and focusing on the members of the catholic church of St. Vincent. The church is located 240 Church Street, this is also where the agency organizes most counseling and rehab seminars to challenged children and parents.
6) Challenges or problems faced by the agency
Just like most other charitable organization that depends on public funding the Catholic Children Aid Society of Toronto is facing financial challenges. Due to the global downturn in the economy the agency is rapidly losing to the big businesses which are currently attracting more attention. The public find it better to invest in the business world rather than donate to a charitable organization. The agency is also facing challenges of public non awareness. Though the agencies policy is to provide services that will improve children in different geographical areas, it has not achieved this due to the fact that it is not well known. The agency mission is to better the life of children by providing counseling to drug abusers or rehabilitation. However, children who require some of these programs may not be willing to accept their condition and need for assistance thus making it difficult for them to benefit from the services rendered. Further, the agency requires well wishes for it to fully provide its services and better the lives of children and their families. For instance according to the Ministry of Children and Youth service the Catholic Children Society of Toronto requires well wishers to offer parental care and support to neglected, orphaned and rejected children. Therefore, since the agency is not in apposition to accommodate all the children identified and rehabilitated, it encounters challenges in resettling these children in a home or a family. In addition, the agency also faces challenges when it comes to the strict financial restrictions that are expected for public funded projects. Since 60 percent of agency revenue is from public donations and community funding, the funds are made to specific projects as directed by the public. Therefore the agency has a responsibility of ensuring that the funds are strictly utilized for the activity they were provided for, the agency therefore posses challenges lacking operational expenses of funds to run minor operational project which are equally important for its effective operations (Chambliss, 2001).
Child welfare organizations such as the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto play a key role in the youth criminal justice system of Canada. This is not just through their simple collaboration with the justice system when it comes to eliminating criminal activities such as child labor and child abuse, but also through the effect that its activities have on society. Indeed throughout history, child saving organizations have played a very important role not just towards establishing charitable institutions that help cater for the needs of children, but also towards driving reform efforts that have led to the abolition of child labor, child abuse as well as establishment of juvenile justice systems. The Catholic Children’s Aid Society, plays an essential role within the youth criminal justice system in Canada. It provides legal support for youths who might find themselves before juvenile courts without legal representation. This helps reduce the chances of unfair judgments and sentences being meted out to children who might not even be aware of the process they may find themselves in. Further, the society through a program specifically meant to rehabilitate youths who may find themselves on the wrong side of the law, attempts to facilitate the rehabilitation of youths arriving from juvenile justice institutions. The organization usually attempts to help such youths gain employment, register for school, or schooling programs, as well as identify any existing community service opportunities that may help with their reintegration back into society. In line with accomplishing such tasks, the organization also has programs aimed at training such youths to help them gain skills that can enable them secure gainful employment. The rehabilitation programs that have been instituted also further serve to assist youths found guilty of substance abuse to deal with these challenges and get reintegrated back into the community, eliminating or reducing the chances of future conflicts with the law due to substance abuse.
In addition to such direct cooperation and collaboration, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society also engages in measures that act as early intervention to prevent youths at risk from turning to lives of crime. These measures essentially include counseling and support services, as well as relocation services which help reduce environments that may encourage children to turn to lives of delinquency, more so instances of child abuse. Widom’s (2010) finding that neglect and abuse as a child increases the probability of juvenile arrest by 55% and likelihood of engaging in violent crime 96%, serves to highlight the important role that child welfare organizations such as the Catholic Children’s Aid society inadvertently play in the youth justice system of Canada. In a way, these programs act as early intervention programs that help end child abuse or situations and environments that may encourage engagement in antisocial behaviors. Similarly, a study by a National Institute of Justice also found that children who were subjected to abuse or neglect were 11 times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior as juveniles (English, Widom, & Brandford, 2004). Making such early intervention practices very important and promising when it comes to reducing criminal behavior amongst the youth. These child welfare organizations can perhaps be classified as falling within the same line as community justice initiatives, as the approach focuses more on the importance of the social interactions when it comes to achieving justice.
Albert, J., & Herbert, M. (n.d). Child Welfare. Retrieved from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/child-welfare
Chambliss, W. (2001). Power, Politics and Crime. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
Crosson-Tower, C. (2008). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
English, D., Widom, C., & Brandford, C. (2004). Another look at the effects of child abuse. NIJ Journal, 251, 23-24.
Friedman, L. (1993). Crime and Punishment in American History. Basic Books. New York, NY.
Fuller, J. (2005). Criminal Justice: Mainstream and Crosscurrents. Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Korbin, E. (1983). Child abuse and neglect: cross-cultural perspectives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Widom, C. (2010). Understanding Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency: The Research.