TORONTO – The Office of Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth will now have the legislative authority to investigative matters concerning a child or a group of children receiving services from a children’s aid society (CAS) or a residential licensee where a CAS is the placing agency. This includes systemic investigations into child deaths and critical injuries.
The move was proclaimed on March 1 by the provincial government, the new powers were introduced in Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, which amended the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007.
The new investigative power does not extend to other children or youth under the Office’s mandate, such as those in youth justice facilities, children with special needs and First Nations children.
“My Office is committed to carrying out fair, thorough and transparent investigations with the goal of ensuring young people feel heard, empowered and protected in the child welfare system,” said Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. “We will also look for ways to support those who have been entrusted to care for the province’s children and youth so we can strengthen the child welfare system and help young people reach their full potential.”
Following the completion of each investigation, the Office will release a public report outlining its findings and recommendations to improve children’s aid society services and services provided by residential licensees in order to promote the best interest, protection and well-being of children.
Anyone who has a concern may request an investigation from the Office once they have exhausted all other available complaint processes. For CAS services, this will include the local CAS’s internal complaints process or the Child and Family Services Review Board. For children’s residences, this will include the internal complaints process at the children’s residence or the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Child or youth seeking or receiving services from the child welfare system with a concern about their experience can call the Advocate’s Office at: 1-800-263-2841 (toll-free) or 416-325-5669.
For more information on the Office’s new Investigative Unit, please visit our website at http://provincialadvocate.on.ca/main/en/about/Investigations.html.