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June 5-7, 2024

1101 Horseshoe Valley Road
Barrie, Ontario     L4M 4Y8

COME TOGETHER. That is our theme for 2024 and for this conference in particular. Come together to connect. Come together to drive change. And most importantly, ComeTogether to positively affect the people in our care. 

And for the first time OARTY and ORCA are teaming up with a combined conference, serving the sector that we all work within. 

2024 continues to be a time of continuing change for our sector, as we integrate changes into our practice, we must remain adaptable, motivated and responsive in order to improve the outcomes for the children, youth, and adults in our care. Out of Home Care services are an essential part of the broader sector, and we will continue to bring together inspired people to ensure that we remain up to date, armed with the latest knowledge and research.  


CONFERENCE SCHEDULE - see session descriptions below

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Delegate Arrivals
6:00 - 7:30 pm - Welcome Reception and Networking

Thursday, June 6, 2024 
7:30 am - Breakfast  
8:30 - Opening Remarks
9:30 - 10:15 -
Maneuvering Change Together, Presented by: David Connolly
10:15 - Networking Break
10:45 - Concurrent Education Sessions
Room A:
Case Study: The Case for Digital Data, Carpe Diem Foster Homes, Presented by: Blair Lewis, Managing Director, Carpe Diem Foster Homes
Room B:
Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion, Presented by: Jody Hendry, Director of Developmental Services and Supports Branch, Community Services Division, MCCSS
12:00 pm - Lunch
1:00 - Update From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, Presented by: Saba Ferdinands, Director, Children and Youth at Risk Branch and Sandra Bickford, Director, Child Welfare Operations Branch
2:30 - Networking Break
3:00 - 5:15 - Concurrent Education Sessions
Room A:
First Nations Indigenous Service Model, Presented by Azalea Ateinza and Jasmine Manning, ANCFSAO (2 hour session)
Room B: 3:00 - 4:00 - Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, Children and Youth Unit - An Overview of Our Work and Roles, Presented by James McGuirk, Investigator, Ontario Ombudsman
Room B: 4:15 - 5:15 - Hiring, Firing and Everything in Between, Presented by:
Lisa Corrente, Torkin Manes LLP
5:15 - Free Time
6:30 - Dinner

Friday, June 7, 2024
8:00 am - Breakfast
8:45 - Welcome Remarks
9:00 -
Your Role as a Leader in the Wellness of Staff Teams, Presented by: Joanne Barnes Smith, Safeguards Training
12:00 pm - Lunch
1:00 - Roundtable Discussions
3:00 - Depart



Update From the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
Presented by: Saba Ferdinands, Director, Children and Youth at Risk Branch and Sandra Bickford, Director, Child Welfare Operations Branch

Representatives from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will attend to provide updates on out of home care regulatory and operational matters. This session will include time to allow service providers the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to MCCSS.

Saba Ferdinands is a strategic leader with over 20 years’ public sector experience developing and implementing policies and programs that improve outcomes and accountability of public services.  Her currents areas of responsibility include policy oversight of licensed out of home care; the delivery of post adoption disclosure services; and private domestic and intercountry adoptions.  Saba is passionate about people-centered design and removing barriers and inequities for marginalized and vulnerable populations.  Her success is attributed to building strong partnerships based on respect, transparency and collaboration and achieving excellence by bringing people together to find common ground and innovative solutions. 


Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion
Presented by: Jody Hendry,
Director of Developmental Services and Supports Branch, Community Services Division, MCCSS

Join us to learn more about the progress being made on the Developmental Services Reform, Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion. In 2021, Journey to Belonging was released and MCCSS committed to the vision, where people with developmental disabilities are supported to fully participate in their communities and live fulfilling lives. We invite you to come learn more about the journey and the next steps ahead. 

Jody Hendry is the Director of the Developmental Services and Supports Branch in the Community Services Division, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. She has been in the director role for the past two years with responsibilities for the Passport Program, DSOs, Quality Assurance, DSCIS, Multi-year Supportive Living Planning, Soldier’s Aid Commission, and Intervenor and Interpreter Services.
Jody has been in the government for over 20 years with experience across the Ontario Public Service including leadership positions in the Ministry of Health, Treasury Board Secretariat, and the former Ministry of Children and Youth Services.


Hiring, Firing and Everything in Between
Presented by:
Lisa Corrente, Torkin Manes LLP

Employment law and regulatory requirements applicable to residential care operators and their staff continue to evolve.  Please join Lisa Corrente from Torkin Manes LLP for an update on the key developments relating to: Employees, dependent contractors and independent contractors; Requirements for hiring staff under the CYFSA; Written employment agreements and other contracts; Layoffs, terminations and related claims; and Case Law relating to human rights and occupational health and safety.

Lisa Corrente is a partner in the Litigation Department at Torkin Manes LLP. As part of the firm’s Health Law Group, she advises and represents healthcare facilities and health professionals. Lisa provides assistance to long-term care homes, retirement homes, group homes, treatment foster homes and other residential care facilities and their staff members.  Lisa advises and represents these clients with respect to ministry inspections and compliance matters; licensing issues; Directors’ reviews and appeals; responding to complaints, including professional complaints and discipline proceedings; civil litigation; dealing with CAS verification decisions; employment and human rights matters; tenancy disputes; privacy and requests for access to information; and the resolution of issues concerning residents and their family members. 

In 2018, Lisa acted as counsel to a long-term care operator at the Gillese Public Inquiry.  Since March 2020, Lisa has been assisting long-term care homes and other congregate living settings with matters relating to COVID-19, including with respect to the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission. 

Lisa is the past chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s health law section and the Canadian Bar Association’s national health law section.  She is also a recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Susan Hillary Davidson Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law.   Lisa has been recognized for her work in health law by both Best Lawyers and Who’s Who Legal.  As well, Lisa remains actively involved in Pro Bono Ontario’s legal clinic at Sick Kids Hospital through which she provides free legal services to the families of children at Sick Kids, an initiative which she helped establish in 2009.   


First Nations Indigenous Service Model
Presented by Azalea Ateinza and Jasmine Manning, ANCFSAO

This model has been developed to guide child welfare practitioners on how to ensure the specific legal, treaty, and cultural rights of Indigenous children are met consistently and meaningfully throughout the province, no matter where the Indigenous child or youth resides. It is intended to outline critical elements to successfully engage youth, families and their communities to develop strong sustainable care plans which will enable successful outcomes for the children and youth entering the care system.  The pathway to do that is through understanding the historical impact as outlined in the MMIWG Report, Truth and Reconciliation, Royal Proclamation on Aboriginal Peoples and the White Paper have outlined.  Also, through an exploration of the application of the understanding of such documents.

Azalea Ateinza is a first-generation immigrant daughter raised in Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), Nunavut. She likes to work with her hands, but her journey has brought her to child and family well-being and adult guardianship. She aims for truthful work grounded in communities, and their own stories and hopes for the future. 




Jasmine Manning joined ANCSFAO in January 2021. She has over 20 years experience working with children, youth, families and community. She is passionate about decolonizing child welfare practice for the safety and wellbeing of First Nations Indigenous children, youth, families and communities. She resides in the Williams Treaty area with her family and beautiful children.





Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, Children and Youth Unit - An Overview of Our Work and Roles
Presented by James McGuirk, Investigator, Ontario Ombudsman

The Ombudsman resolves and investigates complaints about any matter concerning children and youth receiving services from Ontario children's aid societies, foster homes, group homes, secure treatment facilities and youth justice facilities.

As a legislated safeguard for young people in care, we meet with them to talk about their rights and ensure their rights are protected, to ensure they are treated fairly when receiving services, monitor Death and Serious Bodily Harm (DSBH) reports and offer presentations to service providers who have obligations under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017.

Our presentation provides information for service providers and stakeholders about the work we do, examples of complaints we have resolved, trends we have seen and continue to monitor – as well as how service providers can help in our work.

James McGuirk is an Investigator with the Ontario Ombudsman’s Children and Youth Unit since it began on May 1, 2019. Prior to that he spent 10 years as an Advocate with The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and 13 years at Peel Children’s Society. He has been working with children and youth for over 30 years.



Your Role as a Leader in the Wellness of Staff Teams
Presented by: Joanne Barnes Smith

Joanne Barnes Smith, who is part of the Safeguards Training Team, is pleased to join the conference for a second year, to come together in conversation on the many impacts of working in the child and family sector. Together, we will touch on the role’s leaders play in the wellness of staff teams and organizations, how we maintain positive mental health wellness for the betterment of everyone and practical tools we can utilize and share. Our time together will discuss leadership styles, ways we intervene and support and how we model mental health wellness.

A Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist, Joanne’s work is informed by almost 20 years of front line, management, director, and consultancy positions in the social services sector, predominately working alongside young people, families, and community- developing, leading, and supporting initiatives. A mental health specialist and trainer utilizing a compassion focused and multi systemic approach, Joanne is invested in tough conversations on the impacts of social work and how we may better inform our approach to personal and professional wellness. Joanne is increasingly interested in the incorporation of mindfulness practices into her personal and professional life and will speak to such during her presentation.


Case Study: The Case for Digital Data, Carpe Diem Foster Homes
Presented by: Blair Lewis, Managing Director, Carpe Diem Foster Homes

As we celebrate Carpe Diem Foster Home’s remarkable 25-year milestone, it becomes increasingly apparent that embracing technological advancements is imperative for our continued relevance over the next quarter-century.  Through sharing the journey of Carpe Diem, navigating the implementation of QSF requirements, SRA's and ISA placements, and other paperwork-intensive processes, our experience will shed light on the challenges and triumphs we've encountered throughout this process.

The onset of COVID-19 underscored the resilience of our relationships, yet also illuminated the pressing need to streamline workflows and enhance information dissemination to foster seamless connectivity among all stakeholders.  We cannot work harder anymore.  We must work smarter.  I look forward to sharing with our members, Carpe Diem Foster Home’s journey toward digital data solutions and how it has impacted our organization in a positive way.

Blair Lewis is a dedicated and passionate individual serving as the Managing Director of Carpe Diem Foster Homes, a renowned institution founded on June 1st, 1999, aimed at providing exceptional foster care services primarily in the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe of Ontario. Being a second-generation operator of Carpe Diem, Blair brings a unique blend of business experience, innovation, and a deep-rooted commitment to improving the lives of children in need. Blair spearheads initiatives to ensure that Carpe Diem remains at the forefront of fostering positive change in the community, offering stability, love, and support to every child under their care.



Maneuvering Change Together
Presented by: David Connolly

Out of home care has evolved over the years and as service providers you've had to learn, grow and adapt. As difficult as change can be, it is necessary. Albeit not always flawless which is why we do the best we can with what we have and advocate for more. Learn from our mistakes, celebrate our successes and strive to be better and to do better together.

David Connolly was born and raised in Prince Edward Island by 2nd generation Irish settlers. He now resides with his family in Tottenham, Ontario. The area that is now the Town of New Tecumseth is part of the Lake Simcoe-Nottawasaga Purchase (Treaty 18), which was signed in 1818 by representatives of the Chippewa Nation.  David has taught in Seneca Polytechnic's Child and Youth Care Program since 2009. He is also a registered social worker and has operated a private practice as a consultant and counsellor since 2021.  David has worked as a child and youth care practitioner, educator and consultant for over 25 years. His experience includes children’s mental health, out-of-home care, day treatment, youth outreach, community-based programming, and academia.