If a child is not able to live at home, Children’s Aid Societies look for extended family so children and youth can live safely with people they know and are comfortable with. When children and youth live with and are cared for by members of their extended family, kin, a family friend, or someone in their community, this is referred to as a kinship arrangement.
Kinship arrangements support children and youth to maintain connection to their family and heritage, help them remain in their community, support their identity, and help them maintain their ethnicity, culture, and family traditions. Kinship can include neighbours, teachers, or any member of a child’s community with whom the child has an established relationship. It doesn’t need to be a direct relative.
Kinship arrangements can either be “in care” of a Children’s Aid Society” or “out of care.”
Once potential caregivers have been found, they are assessed to understand their ability to meet the needs of a child, as if they were the parents in the interim and long term if needed. The goal is to reconnect the child with their parents as quickly as possible, but the hope is that if the child cannot return to their biological parents, the kinship caregiver/family will be a permanent home for the child. It includes completing a criminal record and child welfare records check on any person over the age of 18 living in the home, a personal interview with the proposed caregiver, a private interview with the child (depending on the child’s age and developmental capacity) and a thorough assessment of the home environment. Provincial Kinship Service standards are intended to meet the safety needs of children and to promote permanency for children who receive child protection services and are being cared for by members of their extended family or community. They are intended to result in care and support that is consistent with family and community traditions for children unable to remain with their family because of protection concerns.
Kinship caregivers receive a support worker from Children’s Aid Society to support the family and support the children living in their home. Kinship service families may be eligible for Temporary Care Assistance through Ontario Works and some support from the Children’s Aid Society, such as food vouchers.