News & Press Releases
OARTY’s Statement on Ontario Child Advocate’s Investigative Reports
May 3, 2019
The Ontario Child Advocate’s office released its final investigative reports on Tuesday, April 30, before closing its office permanently. The Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY) read all three of the Advocate’s reports with great interest.
We recognize the important and complex work of the child welfare and residential services sector, and are committed to continuing to work with our partners at all levels to ensure that the children, youth and young adults in care receive safe, high quality treatment and care that meets their needs. We continue to work with the Ministry and other stakeholders to ensure that all residential placements are appropriately licensed, have the appropriate oversight and are held accountable to high standards of care.
You can read our full statement related to the release of the reports here.
Service Providers Must Work Together to Address Systemic Issues and Ensure Positive Outcomes for Children and Youth - OARTY's Response to the Report of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements
In the first six months of 2017, five young people died in residential placements. All of the young people were in the care of a Children’s Aid Society or Indigenous Child Wellbeing Society (Society), and all of them struggled with mental health challenges. The public, stakeholders and the Office of the Chief Coroner (OCC) felt that further exploration was required to determine whether this might be representative of a spike or part of a trend. To determine the answers to these questions, the OCC undertook an analysis of the data available to understand how many young people in the same circumstances had died. To inform the investigation of the deaths and provide an opportunity for recommendations to prevent further deaths, the OCC established the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements. On September 26, 2018, the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released the Panel's report - “Safe With Intervention: The Report of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements.”
OARTY is appreciative of the work of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements, and we encourage you to read their recommendations to improve the system. You can access our response to the report below.
Compliance Manual - Capacity Building for Residential Service Providers to Respond Effectively to Investigations Conducted by the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
On January 22nd, OARTY, in partnership with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, released the Capacity Building for Residential Service Providers to Respond Effectively to Investigations Conducted by the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Manual. The result of the project of the same name, the manual serves to prepare residential service providers for investigations conducted by the Investigation Unit of the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (PACY).
In the manual you will find explanations and guidance regarding all stages of a PACY investigation, including how to communicate effectively with PACY, and internally with your staff and clients. Sample policies, templates and forms are included to further assist with internal complaints processes and with the PACY investigations process.
The compliance manual is available online, along with individual copies of policies, forms and templates for customization for at www.oarty.net/compliance-manual.html. Residential service providers may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy version for their agency.
Provincial Advocate for Children Youth - Serious Occurrences Report Volume 2
On December 12th 2017, the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth released In Harm's Way? Serious Occurrences Report Volume 2. The report is the second in a series by the Advocate’s Office which analyzed 4,436 Serious Occurrence Reports (SORs) submitted to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services over a three-month period (January 1, 2014 – March 31, 2014).
OARTY is appreciative that the Provincial Advocate’s Office has undertaken this review and analysis of SORs, and brought their recommendations to improve the system forward. OARTY is a strong believer in research, utilizing data as a performance indicator, and continually evaluating service to ensure the best possible outcomes for all children and youth in care.
We have prepared a response to the report which outlines our recommendations and concerns, including considerations for members to assist in determining if there are any areas for improvement in their programs. You can access our response below.
PACY SOR Report 2017 - OARTY Response (pdf)
Working Together to Address Systemic Issues - OARTY Response to Toronto Star Articles
OARTY has submitted an opinion piece to the Toronto Star in response to the recent articles about the experiences of children and youth in Ontario group and foster homes. While we do not yet know if this article will be published, we have provided the article for you here.
"The Toronto Star’s recent articles about the experiences of children and youth in Ontario group and foster homes illustrate some of the systemic issues in the child welfare sector. We believe it was important that the articles gave a voice to the staff who work in Ontario’s group and foster care homes, as their experiences are not often heard.
We want to communicate our commitment to the wellbeing of all children that come into the care system, and remind ourselves to mourn the loss, and honour the memory of any, and all the children and youth, as well as staff, that have died or experienced further harm while in care. Each and every time we seek to solve the challenges that brought us to this juncture, we must keep these children and youth in our hearts and minds.
It is imperative that all levels of service providers work together to address these systemic issues and ensure positive outcomes for the children and youth entrusted to our care..."
Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act
On Wednesday, November 22nd Bill 148: the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, passed into legislation. The Act includes increasing the minimum wage to 14 dollars an hour as of January 1st, 2018, moving to 15 dollars an hour in 2019, and adjusting annually for inflation in the years to follow. You can access the Ministry of Labour’s news release at https://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2017/11/ontario-passes-legislation-to-create-fair-workplaces-better-jobs.html.
The Act includes a number of other changes beyond the increase to minimum wage that will impact employers and employees in workplaces across Ontario. To support residential service providers in preparing for these legislative changes, OARTY offered a webinar on Friday, December 15th to detail the changes and new requirements in the Act, and explain what is required to ensure your agency is compliant with the new legislation.
A recording of the webinar is available to those that registered to attend, as well as for purchase at the below link.
The Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth - Position Paper on Rate Review and Staff Wages
The Ministry has committed to a comprehensive funding review as a long-term priority under the blueprint for residential services. OARTY has been calling for a comprehensive funding review in the residential services sector for numerous years and are pleased that this review will take place.
Cost of living adjustments have not been addressed in the private sector and it is our strong belief that with costs continuing to escalate (including increases in the minimum wage) that the impact of such increases will adversely impact the service sector and the services provided to children and youth.
We recognize that the wages set by the government as part of the rate setting process will increasingly be below the minimum wage, as it is now indexed to the cost of living; and firmly believe that adequately funding staff wages in the private sector would assist in the retention of staff and ensure more stable environments and meaningful relationships for the children in our care.
To better understand how the current rate review process is working on the ground level and to determine what the impact of increases to the minimum wage will be on the sector, OARTY administered a survey regarding rate review and staff wages in October of this year. Based on this information, OARTY prepared a position paper with recommendations for the Ministry. The paper and the results of the survey (as an appendix; all identifying information was removed) were submitted to the Ministry. You can access the paper for your information below.
OARTY Examining Residential Services - Rate Review and Staff Wages - October 2017 (pdf)
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.
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)