Ontario Ombudsman - Children & Youth Unit
Ombudsman Ontario - Child and Youth Unit
The Restoring, Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 received Royal Assent on December 6, 2018. This Act, amoung other things, repealed the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, and transferred investigation powers into child welfare, residential care (including youth justice) and children’s secure treatment to the Ontario Ombudsman. The Provincial Advocate of Children and Youth's office closed on May 1, 2019 and a Children and Youth Unit of the Ombudsman's office was opened.
The Ombudsman’s Children and Youth Unit can take complaints from anyone experiencing an issue with any service provided under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017. The Ombudsman’s Children and Youth Unit can look into individual and systemic issues and make recommendations for constructive solutions.
The Children and Youth Unit assesses all complaints and refers complainants to existing mechanisms for quick resolution wherever possible. They may contact the organization in question for more information on the complaint. The Ombudsman is impartial and does not advocate on behalf of individuals, but seeks to ensure fair treatment. All organizations within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction must cooperate with their investigations.
An archive of the Provincial Advocate’s website (2008-2018) is available at: https://ocaarchives.wordpress.com/. On this website you will find copies of past reports and documents.
Your Responsibilities to OCA
Service providers, including children’s aid societies and residential licensees, must:
- Inform a child in care, in a language suitable to their understanding, of the existence of the Ombudsman, of the Ombudsman’s functions and of how the Ombudsman may be contacted. (1-800-263-2841, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Afford a child in care who wishes to contact the Ombudsman with the means to do so privately and without delay.
- Provide the Ombudsman with private access to children in care who wish to meet with the Ombudsman without unreasonable delay.
- Prominently display at their premises, in a manner visible to persons receiving services, a notice advising of the existence and role of the Ombudsman and how the Ombudsman may be contacted.
- Make available on request any informational materials produced by the Ombudsman respecting the Ombudsman’s functions.
- Notify the Ombudsman in writing and without unreasonable delay of the death of or serious bodily harm to children or youth who have sought or received a children’s aid society service within 12 months of the death or harm if the children’s aid society or residential licensee learns of the death or serious bodily harm. A notification form is available on the Ombudsman’s website under the “Children & youth” section.
Residential service providers and children’s aid societies have a duty to comply with investigations conducted by the Ombudsman's office. OARTY, in partnership with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services developed a compliance manual (prior to the closure of the Provincial Advocate's Office) to assist residential service providers in complying with an investigation. The majority of this manual, including the various forms and templates, can still be utilized to assist you with investigations. You can access this resource, along with supporting policies, forms and templates at www.oarty.net/compliance-manual.html. Please note that it has not been updated to reflect the changes to the legislation.
Reporting Death or Serious and Bodily Harm
Agencies and service providers have a responsibility to report when children and youth in care die or suffer serious bodily harm. This applies to all children living in care, and those who sought or received services from a children's aid society within 12 months of the incident. You can access the notification form here - http://dsbh.provincialadvocate.on.ca/english/notification-formID.html