Customary Care

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Customary Care has evolved over the past two decades as a First Nation exercise in governance to regain control over the welfare of their children.  Any definition or implementation of Customary Care is within the sole discretion of each First nation and, as such, each community will develop their practice at their individual pace and based on their community aspirations and values.  The ongoing development of Customary Care can be viewed as the conduit for First nation efforts to regain control over the care of their children.  Customary Care recognizes the validity of individual cultural practices as a guide for dealing with a variety of problems that our First Nation children and families encounter.
Currently Customary Care is recognized in very broad terms within Part X of Child & Family Services Act (CFSA) as "the care and supervision of an Indian or native child by a person who is not the child's parent, according to the custom of the child's band or native community."   Consequently, principles and best practice guidelines MUST be equally broad in scope in order to be applicable to the individual customs and practices of the numerous and diverse First Nation communities located within the Province of Ontario.
In the contemporary sense, while Customary Care continues to be embedded in age-old traditions of family relations and community support systems, the practice has grown into a First Nation specific service delivery model, and as such is a cultural specific alternative to mainstream practice and philosophy.
Customary Care as a custom of the First Nation exists independent of legislative or judicial recognition, however, due to the enactment of Part X, the Ministry of Children's and Youth Services (MCYS) is obligated to respect and enhance this contemporary means of protecting children and families, as evolved in response to the needs of First Nation members.
Community Foster Care Home
In Ontario, a foster home is an approved home in which parent-model care is provided to four or fewer unrelated children, under the supervision of an operator licensed to provide foster care services. Foster care provides protection, safety, and care to children whose family of origin is unable to provide for them.
As the preferred model of out-of-home care in Ontario, foster care provides children with both temporary and longer-term options for growth and development, and safe, nurturing, and stable relationships in a familial setting. Foster care services are provided by several types of agencies, including children's aid societies, children's mental health centres, youth justices services, and privately operated agencies.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services licenses services providers to provide foster care under the Child and Family Services Act. The ministry supports the foster care system through policy development, monitors the system through the licensing process and provides the framework for the service through legislation. Each licensed agency is responsible for the recruitment, approval, and management of foster homes in its own jurisdiction.
Most foster homes in Ontario are affliated with the 53 Children's Aid Societies (six of which are Aboriginal) located throughout the provinces. Children's Aid Societies (CASs) are independent, non-government agencies governed by locally elected Boards of Directors. CASs are designated under the Child and Family Services Act to provide child protection services to children up to the age of 16. Children already in the care of a society may receive child protection services up to the age 18, if there is an existing court order. A society may provide care and maintenance up to age 21 for former Crown wards that are in care at the age of 18, under an extended care and maintenance agreement.
Types of Foster Care
Foster care provided by Children's Aid Societies is categorized as follows:
Regular Foster Care
Regular foster care refers to the provision on a daily basis of all the essential elements of family life that a childs needs. In a regular foster home, the child can quite readily be integrated into the foster family and have his/her needs met by following the family's daily routines.
Specialized Foster Care
Specialized foster care is designed to meet the needs of children with identified developmental, emotional, medical, or physical exceptionalities. The program's primary objective is to accomodate the child within a foster home setting which addresses the special needs of the child and encourages him or her to function to their maximum potential. It is preferable in Specialized Foster Care to have one foster parent providing care and supervision on a full-time basis.
Treatment Foster Care
Treatment foster care is the placement of children with exceptionalities requiring community-based treatment and professional staff to meet their specialized needs. The children require individual programs developed by their foster parents, who work to assist them in modifying behaviour. This type of care expects that there is at least one foster parent providing care and supervision on a full-time basis.
Kinship Service and Kinship Care
Ontario is in the process of policy and standards development with respect to kinship service and kinship care. Kinship service refers to the full-time care and nurturing of a child or youth by a member of the child's extended family or community, and the child is not in the care of a Children's Aid Society. In these cases a formal admission to care may be prevented through the use of kin as a temporary care provider. Kinship care refers to kin who are caring for a child who has been admitted to Children's Aid Society care and could be eligible for similar support and compensation available to foster parents, when approved and eligible to meet foster care licensing regulations.


Customary Care: A Summary-January 26, 2011
File: customary care summary rpt june 2011.pdf

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