Effective January 1, 2018, Children’s Aid Societies are now required by the Child and Family Services Act to provide the full range of protection services to all eligible youth who are 16 or 17. This is a significant step forward for young people who cannot live at home safely.
- The purpose of raising the age of protection to include 16 and 17 year olds is to increase protection services for more vulnerable youth in unsafe living conditions, support their education and reduce homelessness and human trafficking.
- The amendments reflect a balance between focusing on the protection of youth and respecting the youth’s autonomy. Youth consent is a key consideration in providing services.
- The Ontario Child Protection Standards (2016) and Eligibility spectrum continue to apply as before.Therefore, 16 and 17 year olds must be in need of protection for CASs to become involved.
Duty to Report to Child Abuse and Neglect
- The Duty to Report a reasonable suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection continues to apply in respect of children under 16
- A person MAY make a report concerning a 16 or 17 year old
We understand that reporting child abuse is a stressful decision taken thoughtfully. While reporting suspicions of child abuse and neglect for this age group is discretionary, we strongly encourage you to do so and let CAS assess risk and make decisions as to whether service is required. In this way, we can work together to make sure that those needing child protection services receive them.
More key changes
- A new voluntary agreement will be available for youth who are 16- and 17-years-old who need a placement outside of their home (referred to as Voluntary Youth Services Agreement (VYSA), and
- Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) will be provided for youth where a VYSA ends at the time of their 18th birthday.
Service for 16 and 17 year olds will be guided by the following principles:
Youth-Centered Protection Service: Youth receiving service may have experienced traumatic events or circumstances. CASs will actively engage the youth to build on their strengths and support them to make decisions that help minimize risk and promote their best interests, safety and well-being.
Least Disruptive Approach: Youth are often best supported within their families, extended families and communities. Our approach will involve people important to youth in decision making about youth’s safety and well-being.
Permanency: Youth who are 16 and 17 years old are beginning the transition to independence and adulthood; CASs will help them to identify their goals. Service will support the youth in identifying and developing permanent relationships that are meaningful and beneficial to them while incorporating broad definitions of family, extended family, kin and community.
Connection to Kin, Community & Culture: Maintaining connections to kin, community and culture are necessary for permanency planning and positive outcomes for youth. CAS of Toronto continues its efforts to address the disproportionality and systemic inequities that effect youth. We are committed to engage in culturally safe practices and support the removal of structural barriers that impact all marginalized youth.
For more information please visit: Ministry of Children and Youth Services - Ontario