Children’s aid societies advocate for children, families, and community services in Canada. Every province or territory has a number of children's aid societies. One of the provinces with the most children's aid societies is Ontario, as there are approximately 50 of them in Ontario. They are not-for-profit agencies that provide investigation, assessment, protection, and counselling services to over 120,000 families with children. The societies also provide protection and care to over 20,000 children in foster homes, group homes, and other substitute care.
Each society is a member of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). The OACAS is one of many Ontario associations that represent specialized children’s services in Ontario. The association receives its funding from membership fees, government grants, and revenue producing activities. A board of directors representing 21 regions in Ontario is elected at the annual membership meeting. Candidates for seats on the board of directors are must have served for at least one year as a board or staff member of a children’s aid society.
The association’s critical role is to promote child welfare service issues. In Ontario, child welfare services are provided by community-based agencies governed by volunteer boards of directors. The Association’s mission statement consists of the following elements:
- Supporting its member societies;
- Being the voice of child welfare in Ontario;
- Providing leadership in the achievement of excellence in protection of children; and
- Providing leadership in the promotion of children’s well-being within their families and communities.
On a provincial level, the association works with the government to develop and respond to legislation, regulations, standards, policy, contentious issues, and review mechanisms.
Since 1912, the association has provided the following types of services to its members and the community, public, and government:
- Promotion of child welfare issues;
- Member services;
- Government liaison and policy;
- Research and special projects;
- Quality assistance in child welfare practices; and
Additionally, the association provides systemic support to member societies to help them enhance their own roles in their communities. Services provided to member societies include:
- Child Mortality Task Force;
- Consultation services
- French language services support;
- Information and database services;
- Ontario Child Welfare Training Program;
- Training and support to foster parents; and
- Youth in Care Network Support.
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies