Social welfare organizations serve the purpose of ensuring that the needy people in the society access social welfare services (Turner and Turner 209).The social services are mostly provided by governments, commercial enterprises, and charitable institutions on a voluntary basis. The Canadian Constitution obligates both provincial and federal governments to provide social welfare services. The government is specifically mandated by the constitution to provide child welfare services. The Children Aid Society of Toronto provides welfare services to children in need of care.
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Origin and Brief History of the Society
The children’s Aid Society of Toronto traces its origin to the late 19th century. It was founded by J.J Kelso in 1891. Before 1874, children in need of welfare and care were handled by the court system, which convicted them to serve sentences in institutions. Neglected, abandoned, and orphaned children served as laborers in exchange for being offered apprenticeship by well-wishers (Neff 60). Due to these abhorrent conditions, legislation allowing intervention of charitable institutions in cases of child abuse was passed. Costs of looking after the children were to be shared between the organizations and the provincial government.
The Act for Protection and Reformation of Neglected Children was passed in 1874. It empowered courts to declare children wards of organizations. It was the responsibility of the local government to provide funds for maintenance (Turner and Turner 134). The Act encouraged the placement of children in foster homes as opposed to institutions. The Act motivated J.J Kelso to start The Children’s Aid Society. In 1893, he pushed for enactment of The Prevention of Cruelty and Better Protection of Children Act (Kelso 56).
Following the passage of the two pieces of legislation, children aid organizations became quasi-public agencies with the mandate to take children in their care, place them under supervision and take money from the local authorities for maintenance of children placed in warship. The institutions attained the status of legal guardianship. In 1912, The Children Aid Society of Toronto joined forces with other children aid societies in Ontario and formed the Ontario Association of Children Aid Societies (Gail and Berkley 213).
Purpose and Function of the Agency
The Children Aid Society is one of the largest institutions dedicated to child welfare in North America. As other Ontario children aid organizations, it is obliged by the statute to ensure that children are protected from neglect and abuse. The organization cannot reject any child or put them in a waiting list even when funds are constrained. Immediate response to a child in need of care is required by The Child Welfare Act. The vision of The Children’s Aid Society is a city of safe children, strong families, and supported communities. The mission of the society is to be excellent in collaborating with other organizations, to ensure prevention of situations that lead to child neglect and child abuse, protection of young people and children from neglect and abuse, and provision of safety for young people and children (Finkel 190).
To achieve these missions the society is guided by a code of ethics and values. These include prioritizing the needs of the youth and children, creation of an open, diverse, and honest environment, respecting volunteers, clients, staff, and partner-organization, nurturing a culture of tolerance of children, and demonstrating excellence and innovation in leadership
Organizational Framework and Funding
The society is headed by a board of Directors. Steering committees propose policies, plans, and strategies to the board. Upon approval of the policies by the board, the steering committees delegate the policies to the heads of the various departments where the directives are executed by staff and volunteers. The society’s accounts are audited regularly to ensure transparency in the utilization of funds received from the provincial government and from donors as well (Gail and Berkley 217). The directors are in charge of preparation and presentation of the organization’s financial statement in strict compliance with Canadian accounting standards.
The main principal source of funds for The Children Aid Society of Toronto is the provincial government of Ontario. The society has various funds for use in its projects and programs (Smith 3). The Operating Fund is provided by the e government and is utilized in running the general operations of the society. The Special purposes Fund comprises of private donations and grants given by The Children’s Aid Foundation. This fund also has money given by the government for research tasks and for specific programs aimed at preventing child abuse. There is also a Real Estate Fund, which is part of The Special Purposes Fund. The real estate-fund reserves money collected from sale of real estate for use in future real estate projects.
Method of Service Delivery
The institute provides four basic services in the fields of consultation, research, evaluation of programs, and training. The research and Evaluation department participates in ethical reviews of the society’s programs. It also conducts proposal and grant writing to seek funds for the society. The Children’s Aid Society of Canada has established The Child Welfare Society as its branch. The institute collaborates with the society’s internal and external departments in conducting program evaluation (Finkel 193). The society does not operate under assumptions that its programs are successful. It engages in continuous reviews and assessments of the children placed under care, their parents, and their families.
The Child Welfare Institute of The Children Aid Society conducts evidence-informed child welfare practice. This involves formulation of questions, literature appraisal evaluation, and application of knowledge. Under this practice, the institute conducts evaluation of parenting programs of other children aid societies, in-office access, and Therapeutic Access Programs. It also collaborates with The University of Toronto in researching child custody conflicts. It collaborates with substance-abuse sectors since most of the problems children in care face at home are directly connected to drug abuse by their parents.
The Child Welfare Institute consistently evaluates Community agency programs for other child aid societies such as The Yorktown Child and Family Services. Volunteers and staff have been trained on appropriate use of The Software Package for Social Services to empower them conduct effective and efficient evaluation. Partnerships with academia in conducting research are highly esteemed by the society. The society has also collaborated with the Ontario Institute or Education Research to investigate the role that fathers play in child welfare cases (Strong and Jim 85).
The society collaborates with the Ontario Provincial government and The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. Through the joint venture, the societies have been able to conduct evaluation of The Children Welfare Transformation Agenda of 2006. The agenda advocated for utilization of kinship services and incorporation of Alternative Dispute Resolution in resolving child welfare disputes (Finkel 201). The welfare institute conducts trainings and workshops for volunteers and staff. Training is also offered to other people involved in care of abused children as well as to students who are passionate about careers in The Child Welfare Sector. The workshops are oriented towards promotion of job skills and competency, enhancement of social skills in dealing with vulnerable children and their families, and improvement of research skills and capacity.
The Children Aid Society operations have been governed by various pieces of legislation. It was established under The Corporations Act of Ontario as an incorporated body without share capital. The first solid legislation was The Child and Family Services Act, which, was passed in 1984. The Act was amended in 2000. The amendments incorporated the concepts of the best interest of the child and child welfare as paramount to be at par with the standards set by the convention on the rights of the child. Neglect of a child and emotional abuse of the child were listed by the act as grounds that would qualify a child to be placed in care.
The Children Aid Society of Toronto is internally governed by By-Law number four of the society. The by-law contains provisions relating to the head office, the geographical area over which the society has jurisdiction, the corporate seal, the classes of membership, qualifications and obligations, composition, qualification, election, resignation and removal from the board of directors, general and annual meetings of members, and the rules of procedure of the organization.
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The Charities Accounting Act of 1990 and amendments are there to govern the way the society reports its financial statements. Since the society is a corporation, it is also subject to the provisions of The Corporations Act of 1990 and subsequent amendments/substitutions to the act. The Inter-country Adoptions Act of 1998 regulates the way the society carries out international adoptions. The society is exempted from income taxes since it is a registered charity under The Canadian Income Tax Act (Neff 69).
Effectiveness and Efficiency Review
The society has a strategic plan in place. The plan is a sign of its commitment to excellent performance in achieving its mission and vision. The society redesigns its strategic plan on an annual basis. The process involves consultation with stakeholders and employees, as well as analysis of the environment in which it centers operations (Finkel 210). The strategic plan is optimized by prioritizing the actions that enhance services to children in particular and the Toronto community in general.
To deliver effectively, the society relies on its strategic plan to promote excellence. All operations involving service delivery are consolidated to ensure transformation of service delivery. The society also implements The Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression policies so that racial minorities and marginalized groups are not excluded from service delivery. Staff and volunteers undergo regular training to optimize performance of the human resource department.
The society continuously looks for other alternatives for children in need of care to integrate them in society. These include family-based conferences, community-based relationship service, and use of kinship care where the child is placed under care of close family members. The society also ensures children and youth under care receive relevant and suitable education. Additionally, it has tutoring programs available for them. The society also participates in transition of youth care into adult life after they finish their high school education (Strong and Jim 86). The youth undergo financial training and open savings accounts to help them make and manage money on completion of the care program.
The society’s reports and databases are continuously updated ensuring accurate and relevant data and information is readily accessible. Leadership and administrative positions are held by members of assorted groups to reduce discrimination and promote cohesion among the different groups of people living in Toronto (Foundation Children’s Aid Society 1). The anti-oppression and anti-racism policies are incorporated into the training curriculum of the children in need of care. Employment in The Children Aid Society is anti-racist and anti-discriminatory and complies with the two policies (Smith 2).
To help in transition of the youth from care into the community, the society raises awareness of importance of support from the community in integrating the youth into the routine community activities. The organization also encourages the community to report instances of child abuse and help in the investigations. The beneficial work of the society to The Toronto community is communicated through media campaigns and positive reports in the media. The society relies on social marketing to ensure that information about its programs and projects reach a wide audience.
The Children Aid Society of Toronto regularly updates its mission and vision statements. The staffs are placed into focus groups to aid in preparation of the strategic plan. The Strategic steering committee coordinates the entire planning process. Before the strategic plan is released, consultations are held with stakeholders whose opinion is surveyed. The plan is then presented to The Board of directors, which has the mandate to approve it.
Future Needs and Direction of the Agency
It is beyond doubt that The Children Society of Toronto has done a commendable job. However, there is room for improvement and excellence in the near future. The society should ensure that the 2004 directives on Child Welfare Transformation by The Ministry of Children and Youth Services are fully implemented. Although the society has embarked on the implementation, process there is still a lot of work that needs to be done (Foundation Children’s Aid Society 3). The incomplete phases of the implementation include expansion of infrastructure, improvement in service delivery, and recruitment of new expertise in the child-welfare industry.
Since 2001, the number of children in Toronto and surrounding cities has dwindled rapidly while the number of young people has increased significantly. This has been the case all over Ontario Province. Due to the reduction in the number of children and increase in the number of youths, the demand for care services for young people aged 16-24 has risen sharply. The Children Aid Society of Toronto has to come up with new innovative programs to meet these needs. More funds must be sought to fulfill the educational and economic needs of young people, which are more costly than those of children are.
Immigrants tend to settle down more in Toronto than in other Canadian cities (Gail and Berkley 216). Almost 47% of the population in Toronto is comprised of immigrants and other race groups. Immigrants are usually very committed and dedicated volunteers. The society should therefore liaise with organizations that offer services to immigrants and other marginalized groups to get their input in the running of their activities (Finkel 213).
Technology has revolved process of data collection and data analysis. The data is then used for financial, administration and planning purposes. The ICT infrastructure of The Children Aid Society is limited thus obstructing effective and efficient utilization of electronic data. The human resource is not equipped with up-to-date technological skills. The society therefore needs to revamp its information; communication and Technology department to ensure better service deliver for children.
Transition of children and young people under care requires a lot of input from the social worker. Under Canadian law, they are supposed to be discharged from care upon attaining the age of 20 years. Children rights activists are calling for an extension of this age limit to enable young people acquire independent skills and gradually adapt to the new settings. This will result to an increase in education levels and salaries earned upon employment.
As such, social workers are a great asset to every social work organization and must be highly motivated in order to help the organization in realizing its objectives and missions. A solid code of ethics ensures that social workers act in a professional way in their interactions with clients. Internal social workers are generally more committed to the organization than external social workers are. For delivery of better results, The Children Aid Society has to have policies that promote the interest of every stakeholder involved in child welfare. The Children Aid Society of Toronto has done recommendable work but it must put in place measures to ensure that it can cope with new and emerging needs at all times even during times of emergency.
Finkel, Alvin. Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006. Print.
Foundation Children’s Aid Society. A Legacy of Caring: A History of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2009. Print.
Gail, Aitken, and D. Berkley. A Legacy of Caring: A History of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2002. Print.
Kelso, Jack. Social Laws of Canada and Ontario: Summarized for the Use of Children’s Aid Societies and Social Workers. Toronto: Dundurn, 2008. Print.
Neff, Charlotte. “The Children’s Friend Society in Upper Canada, 1833-1837.” Journal of Family History 3.1 (2007): 234-258. Print.
Smith, George. Investing in Children: A Framework for Action. Ottawa: Child Welfare League of Canada, 1997. Print.
Strong, Boag, and V. Jim. Fostering Nation: Canada Confronts Its History of Childhood Disadvantage. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2011. Print.
Turner, Francis, and J. Turner. Canadian Social Welfare. Toronto: Allyn and Bacon, 2009. Print.