Journey to Zero

Journey to Zero is a joint initiative between the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, and several Canadian philanthropic foundations. It is a four (4) year community-based initiative with demonstration projects. Journey to Zero is about keeping child welfare involved children/youth safe but within their own homes, families, communities and culture. The primary aim of Journey to Zero is to reduce the number of children coming into care and the amount of time children stay in care.

For more information please contact: Sharon Cabrera, Director of Prevention,


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Strengthening Families to Keep Children and Youth Out of Care

  • The primary aim of Journey to Zero is to ensure children do not grow up in care and that if placed in care on a crisis basis, they are returned to their homes and communities as quickly as possible. The primary goal of Journey to Zero is to strengthen families’ capacity and systems to ensure children can remain at home and in their communities.
  • CAS of Toronto will partner with Community Agencies to provide services through demonstration projects. Journey to Zero includes a robust research and evaluation of outcome component.
  • Journey to Zero is a program that focuses on PREVENTION. As an agency we wish to build a different reputation. PREVENTION will be the vehicle to change our reputation. All of our work will focus on our families’ experience with us.

The goals of Journey to Zero include:

  • improve permanency for children and youth
  • reduce the number of children entering care
  • increase the number of children returning to their families on a more timely basis
  • strengthen children/youth and families we work with
  • help build family networks
  • focus on prevention not just protection

In addition, the initiative aims to shift perceptions of CAS in families, children/youth and communities we work with to see us as supportive partners, influence changes in policy and funding with provincial governments demonstrating better outcomes and provide agencies across Canada with evidence-based results and resources to adapt the projects to their community. Journey to Zero integrates CAS Toronto's Equity and Anti-Black Racism (ABR) and Signs of Safety frameworks to all stages of the project. Journey to Zero includes a robust and long-term research and evaluation of outcome component.

All demonstration projects use a multidisciplinary team approach, with strong collaboration between the child welfare team and community agency workers. All projects provide timely, customized, accessible immediate response service.


The goal of Early Response Family Partnership Meetings (FPM) is to empower families, bring together family and significant others, and facilitate the creation of a safety and/or support plan for the child/youth and family. The meetings are facilitated by an external facilitator, and are family driven planning conferences that address agency concerns.


The goal of Intensive in-Home Support for Adolescents is to provide families with a Youth Outreach Worker (YOW) who will work intensely with the youth, their family and community. The YOWs work collaboratively with the child welfare team, youth, and family to provide service to keep the youth safe in their home with family/kin, and in their community.


Intensive Family Network Builders (IFNB) provide support to children/youth and their families to ensure safety and well being. Workers partner with child welfare/children/youth and families to assist them in strengthening and building their support networks in addition to facilitating and brokering an expansion of current and needed supports and resources.


Mpatapo: Supporting Black Families in the Journey to Reconciliation provides services similar to Intensive Family Network Builders. Their Guiding Principles include a commitment to developing and celebrating a strong Black identity, meeting families where they are, supporting their journey to a healthy family relation and recognizing that community is also family.

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Fast Facts

  • Data and research tells us that children and youth in care experience poor academic achievement, employment and health; and are more likely to be underemployed, under housed or homeless, and involved in criminal activity, and human trafficking.
  • Research has also told us that the work we have done with black, racialized and indigenous families has resulted in disparity and disproportionality in our work.
  • CAS of Toronto is currently partnering with two community agencies to implement 2 of the 4 demonstration projects.
  • An environmental scan was completed across the agency to inform how to best meet the needs of the families we work with and ensure timely response to meet our goals.
  • An early response family engagement model has been developed with George Hull Centre as part of the program’s “Early Response Family Group Conferencing project”.
  • Policies and procedures have been developed along with documentation requirements and data collection to inform outcomes.
  • We will continue to move the project forward by ensuring that the first 2 demonstration projects are ready to launch as per identified timelines and begin work on launching the final demonstration projects.
  • Training is underway and this project is ready for implementation.
  • Journey to Zero includes a robust, and long-term research and evaluation of outcome component. As such data collection is an integral part of the initiative.
  • A governance table has also been established which includes multiple stakeholders. This table will begin meeting once the program is officially launched.
  • The second project, providing “Intensive in Home Support to Adolescents” involved an RFP process for provision of Youth Outreach Services.
  • The first two projects were launched in the fall, and work has begun on the implementation of the final demonstration projects ensuring that all demonstration projects are fully operational by the summer of 2020.
  • Journey to Zero is a joint initiative between the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, and several Canadian philanthropic foundations. It is a 4 year community-based initiative with four demonstration projects.
  • The primary aim of Journey to Zero is to reduce the number of children coming into care and the amount of time children stay in care.
  • The program is based on the belief that the best way to help families is to invest in them as caregivers and parents to build their capacity individually and to build the family network. Rather than protect children from their families, we should assist families to protect their own children.
  • We want our families to feel that CAS has been helpful, they have been listened to, and we are collaborative and that they could ask us for help in the future. We will accomplish this with community partners who will provide services and resources to support our children/youth and families.
  • Journey to Zero must be grounded in CAS of Toronto’s Signs of Safety Framework, Anti-Black Racism and Equity best practices. Our community partners must be open and willing to learn from and work with CAS of Toronto’s around Signs of Safety, Anti-Black Racism, and Equity frameworks. Journey to Zero community partners should be representative of the communities that we serve.
  • We must acknowledge that as CAS of Toronto continues to be on a journey to address Anti-Black Racism and Equity work, so do our community partners. We will work diligently alongside our partners to increase their awareness and assist with the development of best practices to build services that are respectful, inclusive, and supportive and that address Anti-Black Racism and Equity.