Adoption Basics

The Role of Child Welfare in Adoption

Children’s aid societies (societies) are required to work with families when child protection concerns are identified. There are 51 societies in Ontario, including 13 Indigenous societies. Societies are governed by the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 and are located regionally across the province. Where possible, societies provide families with services and supports as well as referrals to community partners to prevent children and youth from entering care.

When a child comes into the care of a children’s aid society, the primary goal is to return them home to their family. Families may become involved with societies because other factors, such as poverty, mental and physical challenges and family violence, may interfere with their ability to provide a safe and nurturing home for their child. Societies explore various temporary, family-based care options when children cannot remain at home. Children’s aid societies may seek a placement with:

  • a member of the child’s immediate or extended family,
  • a member of the community known to the child or youth, or
  • if that is not possible placing the child in the care of a foster parent. If you are interested in providing temporary care to a child in need, learn about becoming a foster parent.

When children cannot return to home and all other alternate arrangements have been fully explored, such as the child living with extended family, members of their community or with a foster parent, they may be placed in the permanent care of a children’s aid society through a court order known as extended society care.

Societies are required to find a permanent, stable home for children in extended society care through adoption, legal custody (by foster parents or family members) and, for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth, customary care. Finding permanent homes for children and youth is critical to their wellbeing by providing safe, nurturing and stable relationships as well as opportunities to grow and develop.

For Indigenous children and youth, customary care is the preferred, culturally appropriate placement option. Customary care is the care and supervision of a First Nations, Inuk or Métis child or youth who is not their parent, according to the custom of the child or youth’s band or Indigenous community. It is a way of caring for children based on a model of community responsibility, allowing children and youth to remain closely connected to their culture and community. Learn more about customary care at Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario.