Interim Senior Communications Advisor
RE: Bill 57 Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018
As one of the largest Children's Aid Societies in the Province of Ontario, the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto has served 8,362 children and young people in the community and in the care of the Society to date this year. The Ontario Child Advocate has one very important common purpose with every Children’s Aid Society, which is that we all serve the most vulnerable children and young people in our Province.
It is this common thread that has led to the development of a respectful relationship between the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Through this relationship, we collaborate with the staff at the Advocate’s Office to improve services to children and young people. Through this relationship, we are held accountable to provide excellent quality service to children and young people. We have learned valuable lessons from the numerous reports, publications and conferences that the Advocate’s Office has developed. We have been challenged by a number of systemic investigations conducted by the Advocate’s Office to review our policies and practices and make significant changes and improvements to the way in which we provide service to young people at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.
It is our sincere hope that, as the Advocate’s Office closes, those staff who are currently employed in the office will make the transition to the Ombudsman’s Office. These staff have developed skills and expertise in both advocacy for children and young people and in collaborating with and challenging the child welfare system with a view to the best possible service.
Their focus on areas in which young people struggle, particularly education, housing and accessing services such as mental health services is commendable, particularly their advocacy for services for children and young people with complex special needs. They have made such a significant impact on the lives of many children, young people and their families. Some of these skilled staff, the “youth amplifiers”, are in fact former youth in care and, as such, bring a unique and valuable perspective to the role. The Advocate’s Office has developed strong advocacy skills in these young people and we support their having an ongoing role in matters that so deeply impact them.
Thank you for your consideration of this submission.