A Letter to the Hamilton Community
I am pleased to present you with the 2018-2019 Annual Report for The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton.
The past year has brought significant change and some uncertainty for not only the Society but the child welfare sector as a whole. Early in the year, the agency underwent one of the most transformational database implementations in its history when it joined other CASs on the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN). The highly sophisticated system was developed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide a consistent approach to collecting and sharing child protection information amongst Ontario’s children’s aid societies.
While CPIN’s ultimate goal is to enhance safety for children and youth, as well as provide consistent data, the initial preparation and implementation process brought with it a steep learning curve and additional expenses that created significant challenges for the organization. During this same period, the agency also endured the significant loss of its long-tenured executive director and embarked on a journey in selecting a new executive director.
At a provincial level, legislative changes to the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act required collaborative action to implement language and service delivery amendments and to collectively put related best practices into place. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services converted to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services under the new provincial government, bringing additional amendments and uncertainties.
Despite the challenges of the last year, staff, Board, foster parents and volunteers remained committed to the agency’s mission of ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of children and youth, and the strengthening of families, while valuing diversity and promoting equity. This report is a testament to the impactful work of the agency as it continues to evolve and adapt to meet the diverse needs of the community.
At its core, child welfare is about ensuring safety, permanency and well-being for all children and youth. Through an integrated service approach focused on early intervention for at-risk families, along with the help of collaborating service organizations and our community, we can continue to reduce the need for children to come into care and create safety plans to allow children to remain with family.
This past year, the agency saw the number of children in care decrease from 524 children at the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year to 476 as of March 31, 2019. With
concentrated work, I am confident that we will be able to further support safety planning within the community during the coming year thereby resulting in less children and youth needing to come into care. Additionally, we will continue to focus on supporting permanency options for children in care through the use of kinship, custody orders and adoption.
During the past year, 1,175 families received support through ongoing service, most often related to concerns reflected in the agency’s initial referrals such as addictions, mental health, and domestic violence. Most of this work is done with children and youth remaining with their family.
If a child or youth needs to be removed from their home, the Society continues to work with families to identify possible kin caregivers and explore options that prevent children from coming into the agency’s care while protection concerns can be addressed. At any given time over the course of the last year, there were 165 children and youth who were able to maintain stability and family connections by residing with kin care providers such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends.
In rare circumstances when kinship options are not available, we will turn to our agency’s team of foster families who are able to provide short-term care in a nurturing home environment while working to establish long-term permanency through the safe return of children home, supporting alternative family caregivers, custody orders and adoption. This past year, 227 children left the Society’s care, with 59% of those children being reintegrated into their family and 29 children were adopted.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation to our community partners, volunteers, foster parents and staff for their dedication and compassion in supporting children youth and families. It is only through your hard work and commitment to improving the lives of children, youth and families that we will continue to make a positive difference in the Hamilton community.
In closing, I would also like to extend thanks to the Board of Directors. The governance and leadership exuded by the agency’s diverse Board of Directors throughout the past year has been greatly respected and appreciated.
Thank you for your continued support.
June 27, 2019