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The Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY) calls for changes to licensing practices

May 25, 2017

The recent deaths of children and youth in the care of residential services in Ontario have deeply saddened all those involved in the sector. As a provincial association we recognize our responsibility to take whatever action we can to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future and we are fully committed to working with our partners to address issues within the current system.

We support the recent calls from our partners in the sector for a Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of children and youth in the residential care system in Ontario. We believe that an Inquest will bring to light issues which must be addressed in order to ensure an efficient, effective, safe, and transparent system of care.

OARTY has brought many recommendations for improving the child welfare and residential services systems forward, most recently through our submission to the MCYS Residential Services Review Panel. Our recommendations challenged the current structure and thinking of the system with the goal of improving outcomes for children primarily, and the sector as a whole, while also increasing transparency and accountability.

Recommendations within our submission to the MCYS Residential Services Review Panel included:

  • Adopting a robust triage system at intake into the system to facilitate an accessible, responsive system, grounded in respect and dignity.
  • Mandating and funding third party accreditation to ensure continuous quality improvement processes.
  • Reviewing and updating licensing standards.
  • Implementing a process to standardize policies, procedures, and practices across the province.

Our concerns with the current practice in placement decisions have been included in all of our submissions to government, and we will continue to advocate to ensure that children and youth are receiving the appropriate level of care and treatment in the least intrusive manner. Currently, the service delivery system seems to set targets of “how many units” of low cost/low intensity services can be provided (e.g.) kinship care, regular foster care and brief group therapy.

This focus on low cost/low intensity services has led to unintended consequences, including the blurring of lines between licensing types and the placement of children and youth in services which may not be able to adequately address their risk levels.  Variations in specific program descriptions, as well as the general terminologies of ‘foster care’, ‘group care’, and ‘regular, specialized, treatment’ create significant barriers to effective service delivery. We are committed to working with our partners to modernize the licensing process and to ensure that all residential services are licensed and subjected to appropriate oversight.

The recent deaths have also highlighted the challenges faced by Indigenous children and youth within the child welfare and residential services systems in Ontario. We are committed to working with our partners to address the inequities in the system and we will continue to advocate that supports and services be made available closer to home for these children and youth.

About the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY): OARTY is a provincial association of private residential services, including residential treatment centres, group homes, foster and treatment foster homes. OARTY provides services in the areas of government relations, advocacy, communications, education, information services, and training to assist our member agencies in continuous quality improvement and to continually improve upon the services and supports being offered to children, youth, and young adults in care.


 

Press Releases

 OARTY Response to PACY Serious Occurence Reporting - Feb 26 2016 (pdf)
The following letter to the editor was released in response to the Toronto Star Article of April 24, 2015, 46 CAS agencies, 46 standards of care for vulnerable children.
 OARTY Letter to the Editor - Toronto Star CAS Data Analysis Article of April 24 2015 (pdf)

 Thriver Inc. Announces Donation of 3,000 Licences to Help Ontario's Youth (pdf)

 OARTY Supports Blueprint for Fundamental Changes to Child Welfare System - Press Release - January 2013 (pdf)

 OARTY Supports Call for Fundamental Changes to Child Welfare System - May 2012 (pdf)

 Unkind Cuts for the Disabled - May 2010 (pdf)

 The Group Home Mess - May 2009 (pdf)