what is foster care

What is Foster Care?

There are more than 8,000 kids in Ontario’s foster care system, placed in homes through Children’s Aid Societies or partner organizations like Quinte Children’s Homes.

Have you ever wondered: How do kids end up in this position? What other options are available?

The start of foster care in Ontario

Ontario’s foster care program started to take shape in 1888 when the government passed The Children’s Protection Act, legislation that gave courts the ability to place a child in the care of an institution or charitable organization.Even then, people believed a child’s environment could make a big difference to their well-being; foster homes became a warmer alternative to larger institutions.

The first Children’s Aid Society (CAS) was founded in 1891; over the next 20 years more than 60 CAS organizations had been created in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

In 1912, the groups in Ontario came together to form the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS), an organization that works with the government and supports its members.

Who are foster children?

According to the OACAS there is no typical foster child; they can range in age and come from very diverse backgrounds. But it notes that each one needs help.

  • Children come into care because there is a conflict within the family, because of a parent’s illness or incapacity to take care of their child/children.
  • Some children may come into care because the family cannot provide adequate care or the necessities of life.
  • Other children may have been neglected, abused or abandoned.
  • Many foster children are teenagers; some are brothers and sisters.
  • Some foster children face physical, emotional and mental challenges.

The responsibility of the foster parent is to create a safe, stable and caring environment for kids who enter their care.

What about other options for kids who need help?

As outlined in this information from OACAS there are a number of options when it comes to providing care for kids.

As long as a child is not at risk of harm, the ideal solution is give the family support they need to keep the child in their care. Another preferred option is to have a child live with a close relative, keeping them with their own family.

Aboriginal children may be placed in the care of someone chosen by their own community, whether a relative or someone they have a bond with.

Sometimes, however, these options aren’t possible and an alternative – like foster care – needs to be considered. For kids who need extra support like treatment for mental health issues, there are also options like Quinte Children’s Homes.