Children’s Aid Society
Children’s Aid Society in Canada
The Children’s Aid Societies of Canada refers to a group of institutions and organizations which have been mandated to offer child protection services to the general Canadian population. This mandate is actually provided by the Canadian government, with supervision and funding being done through Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Affairs, although these organizations are mainly regarded as nongovernmental organizations, hence granted a greater degree of autonomy than would otherwise be the norm. Although the ministry is not allowed to interfere or meddle in the day to day running of the society, a board (Child and Family Services Review Board) does exist to ensure the comprehensive investigation of any complaints that are launched against the society, as well as act on any findings. This is particularly important when one considers the fact that over the years the CAS has been shrouded in controversy and found to be guilty of negligence, malicious prosecution as well as incompetence amongst other irregularities.
Based on the mandate given to CAS, there are a number of functions which these societies are supposed to fulfill. These functions include: Investigation of any reports or evidence that may exist indicating the presence of neglect or abuse of children who are below the age of 16 years, as well as the initiation of the necessary remedial measures. Providing care and supervision, for children who may come under the care and supervision of the societies. Placing children who may not have legally recognized guardians or parents up for adoption, as well as providing support for families and counseling in order to eliminate situations in which children may require protection.
These societies have been granted authority under provincial legislation to remove children from abusive situations and ensure the general welfare of children. Especially from homes in which children face the risk of being harmed, or have previously experienced harm. These children are removed from such situations and placed with family friends, other family members, customary care, foster homes, group homes or their adoption facilitated. In some unique situations, the children are provided with childcare services while they remain within their homes, until they reach an age where they no longer require protection services( Ministry of Children and Youth Services, n.d).
The societies’ main aim is to create a system that abhors oppression and abuse towards children, as well as to advocate against any social injustices that might be committed against children, with the end result being a society in which communities are provided with support, families are very strong and as a result, children are safe. They therefore accomplish such a mission by protecting children from any form of neglect or abuse, providing safe and nurturing care for these children, advocating for the meeting of children’s needs as well as, and perhaps most importantly, preventing situations which may lead to neglect and child abuse. These goals are achieved through the prioritization of the needs of the youth and children, as well as through accountability, transparency, equality, respect, openness, diversity and honesty. Although achieving proper standards in all these areas is usually a challenge, the society does with a relatively great degree of effectiveness play an important role in the advocacy for child and youth welfare, the problems and challenges faced by these societies notwithstanding. This is more so for children who may be abandoned or may belong to abusive families.
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is a social service agency that strives to improve the welfare of children in Toronto. The agency is mandated to provide child protection to native children in the highly metropolitan city of Canada. The agency has gained trust of many people in Canada and also the government ministry over the past years. The confidence revolving on the agency lies on the fact that it has proven that it can successfully provide the services approved by the ministry relating to bettering children lives. It has also proved competent and of good faith in carrying out financially related child welfare services. Further, the agency has also increased its fame by ensuring that the service model remains in consistent with ministry expectation for viable services required in child protection (Hoyano & Keenan, 2007).
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is the only full service agency that strives to maintain child welfare thorough the managerial control of the Native Community. In 1985, the Ontario government formally acknowledged that cultural differences influenced the way children are raised and for these reason they passed The Child and Family Services Act which recognized culture in child welfare services. The act stated that both the Native Community and Indians were entitled to provide services to their children in a manner that upholds and recognizes their culture, heritage, traditions and expectations of the extended families. After the implementation of this act the Province of Ontario decided to start an agency that would assist the reserve community in providing services to children and maintain their culture. This marked the rise of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. The community decided to open an agency that would cover the entire Toronto because they felt confidence that the Native community of Toronto was capable to maintaining the population. Another major reason as to why the agency established was to cover the entire Toronto was the increasing population of Toronto. Toronto population had a 4 percent population increase. The native community was sure that the population was sufficient enough to provide child welfare support and benefits to the community.
From 1985 to 1988, the agency developmental phase began. During this period several negations involving the Native community and Non-Native community began, they mainly focused on the functions and importance of the culture in child welfare. By the year 1988 a strong Board of directors had been formed, it was mandated to implement child welfare in Toronto but ensuring that the functions of the agency abide by the bylaws of the Ministry of community and Social Service of Canada. The board of directors with the assistance of the entire Native Community developed service objectives and mission statement expected to govern the agency. Towards mid of 1988, the agency was ready to begin and funding began by April 1 the same year. In 1990 the agency had began developing multiple programs that could better improve the lives of Native children in Toronto as well as their families. The agency developed many programs that harmonized the needs of children and their culture. Through the programs several children received assistance and families were socially accepted. Most of the agency programs were so successful to the extent that the agency received the Ruth Atkinson Hind-marsh Award in 1998 the greatest award of its kind in Canada. The award was proof that the agency programs during the period had successfully improved the lives of needy children in Canada. The success of the agency continued to show in the number of children that benefited from the program. In 2004, 20 years after the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto agency had began its operations under the control and management of The Child and Family Services Act the Ministry of community granted the agency full independence. The agency became an independent body that could function in fully as a Children’s Aid Society. From then the agency became a self determined and accountable welfare in the city of Toronto.
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto aims at providing for a quality life to children as well as caring, healing and upholding families for the Native Community of Toronto. It also creates a model service that is culture-based, providing respect of Native community values and extended family while still exercising the right of self determination (www.nativechild.org).
3) Services or Programs
The agency is responsible for improving the life of children and families for the Native community in Toronto. The first tasks that the agency focuses on are child care, family well being and children’s health, while striving to provide these services it combines native culture and modern approaches in the society. The initial programs that the agency provides are counseling programs for the youth and parents on how to better care for children and provide for the entire family. The agency also has child mental care program which assists in providing medical attention to children. In combining culture and modern approaches to family conflicts, the agency established family violence and women abuse to ensure that all groups in the society have better lives. Rather than providing counseling to parents and children and facilitating health care programs, the agency has gone further to provide financial support to the Native Toronto families. Since the year 2000 the agency began housing, family well being program to assist in providing family basic needs and aboriginal women and children apartments. Further, in the past three years the agency began a camping program to assist in harmonizing cultural activities and modern activities in areas relating to social activities, family ties and children upbringing.
4) Funding Statistics
Funding of the agency comes from the government and other community funders. Sixty percent of the agency funds are from the government. The main sources of government funds provided to agency are from the ministry of Children and youth services, Ministry of Community and social Services, Ministry of health promotion and Ministry of tourism and Recreation. The other great sources of funds are from community funders such as United Way Toronto, Ontagio Arts Council, Health Canada and Kiwanis Club of Toronto.
Native child and Family Services of Toronto main office or the central office is located in 30 college street, Toronto. The agency main branch is also known as The Centre for Native child and Family Well Being. The other major branch of the agency is the aboriginal Head stat branch which gas sub-branches in Shaawnong 935 Dundas Street East, Waabanong 20 Waldock Stree, and Epinigishmok 611 St. Clair Avenue West. Since the year 1998 the agency began several child care branches such as Dundas Kinder Enrichment program in 935 Dundas Street East, Early Years Centre 30 College Street and Scrarborough child and Family life Centre. The other branches of the agency are Native learning centre and youth department located in Wood Street. All these branches assist in achieving the agency mission of providing quality child life and better families for the native community of Toronto.
6) Challenges and Problems faced by the agency
The main challenges faced by the agency relate to their constant struggle of reconnecting urban aboriginals with the modern heart of the city. Aboriginals or the native people have cultural activities which at times do not go hand in hand with modernization; as a result issues such as discrimination and inhuman activities arise. The agency currently has challenges in harmonizing these two styles of life the culture and modern due to the existence of status classes, feminism, child labor and early marriages.
Relationship to criminal justice in Canada
Child welfare and the youth criminal justice system are interconnected in more ways than one. This assertion also holds true for the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, as by fulfilling some of its duties, the organization is forced to work collaboratively with the justice system, more so the youth justice system. However, more than by just working collaboratively with the youth criminal justice system in Canada to help rehabilitate or identify delinquent children, the efforts by the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto help to eliminate situations or conditions that may give rise to delinquency (Smith, Ireland, & Thornberry, 2005).
Indeed if judged from the basis of the assertions made by Weibush, Freitag, and Baird (2001) that maltreated children are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior compared to those who are not maltreated, child welfare services play a very important role in eliminating delinquent behavior. These assertions are indeed backed up by Widom and Maxfield’s (2001) findings that abuse or neglect as a child increases the probability of engaging in juvenile delinquency by 56 %, adult crime by 28% and generally violent crime by 30%. These statistics indeed serve as justification for the activities that organizations such as the Native Child and Family Services engage in.
Amongst the ways through which the organization assists the youth justice system in Canada, is by virtue of the fact that it attempts to eliminate chances of child maltreatment through measures such as: counseling on the best parenting approaches, with in turn encourage strong family and parenting units and outcomes. Further, the Native Child and Family Services also ensures that the welfare of children who belong to abusive families is very well taken care of, and if need be, the children at risk of maltreatment relocated before permanent psychological scarring occurs. Programs such as the family well being program enable the organization to ensure the provision of essential basic needs for families, eliminating the chances of neglect, while at the same time improving child welfare. It is in a plausible to argue that child welfare and generally organizations such as the Native Child and Family Services, can be considered an extension of the Canadian youth justice system, as they can be classified under early intervention and prevention programs. Such programs and organizations reduce the chances and risk factors of delinquency significantly (Loeber, Farrington, & Petechuk, 2003). The concept of child welfare and organizations involved in child welfare playing a key role in the criminal justice system can obviously be handled and discussed under community justice initiatives, as it would blend in quite nicely with approaches such as restorative justice and other programs that focus on the environment as key to the development of delinquent behavior.
Ministry of Children and Youth Affairs (n.d). Children’s Aid Societies. Retrieved from http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/childrensaid/childrensaidsocieties/i dex.aspx
Loeber, R., Farrington, D., & Petechuk, D. (2003). Child Delinquency: Intervention and Prevention.
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto www.nativechild.org
Smith, C., Ireland, T., & Thornberry, T. (2005). Adolescent Maltreatment and Its Impact on Young Adult Antisocial Behavior. Child Abuse & Neglect 29(10), 1099–1119.
Weibush, R., Freitag, R., & Baird, C. (2001). Preventing Delinquency through Improved Child Protection Services. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Widom, C., & Maxfield, M. (2001). An Update on the “Cycle of Violence”. Research in Brief, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
Crosson-Tower, C. (2008). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Hoyano, L. & Keenan C. (2007). Child Abuse: Law and Policy Across Boundaries. Oxford University Press.