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A Day in the Life

Take a look inside a typical day at our agency

Our Day in the Life project started a year ago with planning and research. We polled every part of the organization to find stories about what happens in a typical day. To maintain privacy, identities of our staff and clients were muted or changed and stock imagery has been used. The entire project took more than 100 hours of work. Future projects will concentrate more on foster parents and volunteers. 

Reception staff are greeting a family that has come for an access visit

Direction 4 of our Strategic Plan – Train and Equip all staff, foster parents and volunteers to deliver exceptional service.

The first person clients meet when they come to our Kingston or Napanee offices are our highly skilled reception workers. They perform a variety of tasks from answering phone calls and booking meeting rooms to arranging taxis for families who need them and finding someone to answer a client’s question. In this case, its parents who have come for a court ordered supervised visit while their child is in our care. Our reception worker notifies the staff member managing the access visit that the family has arrived. They are soon in one of our access rooms with their child or outside on our enclosed playground. Our lobbies are very busy places, but our reception staff always give each person the respect they deserve and the help they need.

Workers are holding a Family Centered Conference

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

One of our workers has organized a meeting that includes the parents, members of their extended family, counsellors or other staff from support service agencies and someone from their children’s school. It’s called a Family Centered Conference. During the meeting, everyone talks about what is going well, and what they are still worried about. The goal is to come up with a plan that the family can rely on to get help when they need it, even after the case is closed. If the kids are old enough, they too can be part of the planning. Our workers hold Family Centered Conferences all the time, and with good results. Strengthening the family in this way allows them to move forward, with everyone on the same page, working together for the same goals. It makes for better outcomes – for the family and for our community.

A worker is matching a child to a foster family

Direction 3 of our Strategic Plan – In the role of the parent we are committed to every child in our care experiencing family based care.

A child has to come into our care. There’s a crisis at home and they can’t stay there. A worker who is responsible for finding them a foster home is now matching them to one of our foster families. Matching is critical to every placement. The better the match, the better the outcome. We take great care in trying to find the right home for each child, even if, as in many cases, the home is a temporary one before the child returns home, goes to extended family or is adopted. The worker reviews the child’s information – everything from their history and needs to their age and preferences. She then reviews available approved foster homes to find the right fit, including the foster family’s experience, skills and training. She then contacts the foster family to discuss the placement. Then the placement is made. But the work doesn’t end there. In the days ahead, the worker will follow up with the foster family with ongoing support. Agency staff, foster parents and other supports – we’re all on the same team to help this child find a safe and permanent home.

Reviewing our Balanced Scorecard

Direction 5 of Strategic Plan – Be Accountable and Efficient

A manager is compiling data for our Balanced Scorecard. That’s the way we measure how we know what we’re doing is working. It’s a collection of measures used to monitor our progress achieving our strategic objectives. The Balanced Scorecard is reviewed quarterly by the Board of Directors. The Scorecard measures a host of things from compliance to investigation standards to the number of client complaints to the number of times a child in care is moved to a new foster home to the number of staff sick days. One example is the number of days in family-based care. Our Vision is “Children growing up in families”. We believe that the best place to raise a child is in a family. That’s why we measure the number of days in care by placement type – family, group care or other. It’s also why we also publish the same measure every year in our annual report. We’re an organization that learns and grows. And we take our responsibility to be accountable very seriously. Using our Balanced Scorecard is part of that commitment.

A new permanent home for Henry

Direction 2 of our Strategic Plan – Find timely alternative permanent families for children that cannot stay in their family.

18 month old Henry is about to be adopted. He was born to two young parents with chronic drug addictions and a history of domestic violence. We placed him with a couple who were part of the mother’s extended family. They cared for Henry and did their best to maintain contact with the parents. At Family Court, a judge ruled that there would be too much risk for Henry to go back to the care of his parents. He became a Crown Ward. The couple that were taking care of him decided to adopt him. Now, with extended family and Agency staff looking on, a Family Court judge signs the papers giving Henry a new permanent home that he deserves. In court, the adoptive parents read a statement thanking the parents for bringing Henry into the world. They pledge that Henry will always know who his parents are and the story of how his extended family and our Agency helped him find a new place to call home.

Supporting children with developmental disabilities in Lennox & Addington

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

A worker is helping a family with a special needs child in Lennox & Addington County get the services they need. In Lennox & Addington, we provide counselling, advocacy, case management services, and planning for children with developmental and/or physical disabilities living in their family home. This can include applications for various funding sources, support and advocacy with education related issues and medical appointments, providing referrals and information regarding community services, assistance in obtaining respite services for parents, long-term planning and referral to adult services and more. We also operate Kool Kamp, a unique community based day camp experience for kids with special needs during March Break and in the summer. Every family needs help, but sometimes families with special needs kids need more. We’re there in Lennox & Addington to be that help.

Help Desk helps worker access computer file

Direction 4 of our Strategic Plan – Train and equip all staff to deliver exceptional service

The data we keep is important. It helps with our investigations and ongoing services. We’ve made great strides in our 122 year history converting to a digital platform, including recent changes to how we digitally store documents and the new Child Protection Information Network – an initiative to replace the separate information systems by the province’s 47 Children’s Aid Societies with a new, single system. Right now, one of our skilled IT staff is helping a new worker access a critical file that they need for a case. Our IT teams keeps our computers, networks and systems going round the clock so that when a worker needs something they get it as soon as possible – files, computers, software, telecommunications and more. The world is increasing becoming more connected, and so are we thanks to our IT team.

Helping families to connect with community services

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

One of our staff is working with a community partner agency to get a family the help it needs with an addiction issue. Parents and children sometimes need help making connections with resources in their community. Part of the work we do is to help families make these connections, either by providing information about the resource, helping them with making a referral, or participating in a collaborative planning meeting with the family members and the resource/service provider so that there is a good understanding of the family’s needs. Bridging families to services in their communities is important to helping families establish a support system they can turn to, so that families can deal with issues and keep their children safe. We know when we help families increase their support system they are more likely to have positive success in dealing with the issues they face. Information sharing like this is important in helping our agency be a part of a stronger community, which in turn builds a stronger support system for our families.

Working with a family to create child safety goals

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

A worker is meeting with a family in Sharbot Lake to create safety goals for their children. We serve two counties the size of Prince Edward Island. We have workers located in Sharbot Lake and Northbrook and others assigned to other rural areas. They drive thousands of kilometres every year to meet with families with diverse needs. Their job is more than just investigating. They’re there to strengthen that family. They listen, question and plan with families to create strategies that will keep their children safe. They also work with families to create a network of support – extended family, partner agencies and more – who can help them. Our workers are sharing ideas, making referrals and bringing everyone together to partner with the family to create a safe place for their children. Wherever you are in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, we’re there, too, with services like these for families that need them.

Helping grandparents do the legal paperwork to look after grandkids

Direction 2 of Strategic Plan – Finding alternative permanent families for children that cannot stay in their family.

Our legal department is helping grandparents get the necessary court orders to take over responsibility for raising their grandchildren. Sometimes parents facing a challenge know that their kids aren’t safe with them. They turn to their extended family for help – grandparents, uncles and aunts and others. When that happens, we’re there for them to help keep the children safe. In this case, it’s a parent and grandparents, and they both agree that it would be best for the children to be with Grandpa and Grandma. Our legal staff draft the necessary court documents, meet with the parent and her lawyer, schedule a court date, explain to the Judge why the children cannot stay with the parent and why it is best if the child is placed in the care of kin. Our Vision is “Children growing up in families”. It means that if a child can’t stay in their home, we will help them find a new one, preferably with their extended family who know them and want to take care of them. It’s part of our commitment to permanency.

A worker is helping a family learn more parenting skills

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

Every parent needs help, but some of the families we see need more help than others. Right now, a worker from our Enhanced Support Services team is meeting with parents in their home to help them learn skills to keep their kids safe. Team members provide a wide range of services to families including crisis support, helping parents and kids improve their relationships, assist teens in life skills development and more. They meet with families at their home or our offices, sometimes two or three times a week. In this case, the worker is teaching parents about how to better deal with the behavioural and emotional needs of their kids. This is important work that’s part of a bigger picture. Families like these receive help from a variety of Agency staff and volunteers as well as community partner agencies and their own network of extended family and friends. Together, they will help strengthen this family so that their challenges don’t turn into a crisis.

A staff member is processing a payment for a foster parent

Direction 5 of our Strategic Plan – Be Accountable and Efficient

Most of our funding comes from the Government of Ontario. We take our responsibility to manage taxpayer dollars seriously. That’s why our Finance department works so hard at accounting for every dollar and making sure all our bills get paid on time and correctly, including payments to foster parents. We have more than 100 foster homes. Foster parents are special people. They help take care of children because they care. Because they want to make a difference. In this case, a Finance team member is processing an expense item – something that their foster child needs to get ready for the new school year. The foster family can get on with the business of raising that child knowing that we’re there to support them. On their expenses, and so much more. That’s our commitment to them.

A worker is giving a client a brochure on how to make a complaint

Direction 5 of Strategic Plan – Be Accountable and Efficient

A worker just gave a new client a copy of our complaint brochure. With the powers we have to keep kids safe comes a responsibility to be accountable. That starts with the brochure workers give to clients or that anyone can download from our website. Every Children’s Aid Society has a complaint system like ours. Clients start by talking to their workers. If they’re not satisfied, they can talk to a manager and so on until they reach an Internal Disputes Panel. At any time, they can go to the Child & Family Services Review Board, an independent tribunal, to file a complaint about the service they received. They also can contact the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, which has the legislative authority to conduct investigations into matters concerning a CAS. More information about the Child & Family Services Review Board and the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, as well as legal information our clients can use in dealing with us or with Family Court, is also available at our website.

Director is compiling expense data for publication

Direction 5 of Strategic Plan – Be Accountable and Efficient

A Director is compiling data about executive level expenses to be published on our website. Our Agency is part of the Government of Ontario’s Broader Public Sector Accountability initiative. Part of that means publishing online the expenses of our key leaders. It also includes a commitment to public reporting through our annual report (including service and financial data), publishing our expense and procurement policies and more. All of this information is available at our website. We take our duty to be accountable seriously. That’s why we’re committed to following all the rules in the Broader Public Sector Accountability initiative to the best of our ability. See for yourself at our website.

A worker is using Signs of Safety mapping

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Make Client Engagement a core principle and activity in service delivery

We have a new way of thinking about the work we do. It’s our new service model framework, called Signs of Safety. It’s one of the world leading child welfare service model. It focusses on working with families to plan what needs to be done to keep kids safe. Right now, a worker is using Signs of Safety to map out a family’s strengths and goals. He’s using a whiteboard and a marker to list out what everyone is worried about, what is working well in that family and what needs to happen to keep kids safe. Later, he’ll share the map with the family and community partner agencies for their input. In some cases, there’s also a version that the kids can use to get their input as well. Together, they’ll build a roadmap to safety that everyone will understand and agree on. It’s a different way of thinking that engages and empowers families. And it works.

Helping a family stay together

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

One of our workers is arranging for two kids to stay with extended family while a parent deals with a mental health challenge. This is a family with chronic needs. A call from a community partner about the family’s home has led us to become involved. The children can’t stay at home. Our worker is helping the parent plan for an extended family member to take the children for a temporary period until the parent can get the help they need and make the home livable again. The plan calls for regular visits from an Enhanced Support Services worker to help with daily routines, schedules and house-keeping. Other community services will be accessed. With any luck, the kids will be able to return home in a few weeks. The family will receive ongoing services to help them get back on track and, hopefully, stay there.

A worker is doing a search on CPIN

Direction 4 of our Strategic Plan – Train and equip all staff to deliver exceptional service

worker is using the new Child Protection Information Network System (CPIN) to identify a family receiving services. CPIN is a new single information network system designed to replace the separate systems operated by Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario. The system is being rolled out across the province, and our Agency was an early adopter when it switched over to CPIN in April. The change was more than just a new piece of software. It involved major changes to operating practices. We had to hire extra people while we trained staff – nearly 900 hours of training across 15 weeks. The simple search our worker is doing right now is the culmination of the work of hundreds of people across our Agency, other CAS’s and the Government of Ontario to build the best child welfare information network we can make. It will create better outcomes for families, better reporting and ultimately, more accountability.

A worker is helping a family struggling with domestic violence

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Developing collaborative service

A worker is helping a family that has been involved in domestic violence. The police were called to the Family’s home after one parent assaulted another. The children were not hurt, but they saw everything. Domestic violence is one of the major causes of investigations by a Children’s Aid Society in Ontario. There are many reasons for domestic violence, and there are many victims. The impact on children can be significant and long-lasting. In this case, the worker is planning with the family and extended family and coordinating with other community agencies about how to create a safe home for these children. This is just one family, but this case may eventually involve dozens of people and many services, including our worker. They all share the same goal we do. Keep the kids safe.

Abby is transitioning to independence

Direction 3 of our Strategic Plan – In the role of the parent we are committed to every child in our care experiencing transition to independence

Abby is a Crown Ward who has been living in foster care since she was 11. She’s just about to turn 18, when she will begin the process of aging out of our care. Her worker and the supportive adults in her life have been discussing the day she will turn 18 with Abby for some time. They’ve been setting goals and making plans. Abby has had to do a lot of thinking. Her worker has been there supporting her along the way. Today, they’re signing an agreement for Abby to go to the Continued Care and Supports for Youth program. It provides financial and service supports through our Agency until Abby turns 21. More than a contract, it’s a plan that sets out Abby’s goals as she transitions to independence and includes everything from independent living to attending college to starting a job. It’s a lot to take in for someone who is just turning 18, but with her worker and her other supports helping her Abby will get where she needs to be.

Getting a call from a teacher

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

Our referral centre is taking a call from a teacher who suspects a child is being neglected. We can’t be everywhere. That’s why we rely on people, and especially professionals like teachers, doctors and others, to contact us when they have concerns about a child. In this case, our skilled referral centre staff take the call, listen to what the teacher says, ask some key questions, make an assessment using a standardized template and then assign it to one of our teams for action. The law in Ontario is clear. Any person who has reasonable grounds to suspect child is being maltreated MUST report it. But more than that, it’s the right thing to do. If a family you know needs help, the best thing to do is to help them by contacting us. We have people you can talk to 24/7, 365 days of the year. It takes a village to keep kids safe. If you suspect something, contact us. For more information, just look under the “Protection” tab on our website.

Someone is helping us send a youth in foster care to college with a donation

Direction 5 of Strategic Plan – Be Accountable and Efficient - Enhanced fundraising capacity

Our college and university bursary program relies on fundraising. The government supports youth in our foster care system who want to get a post-secondary education, but it’s not enough. Without the bursaries we provide, many of them wouldn’t be able to go. The youth we serve have many strengths, but also many challenges that make them unique. They need our help. That’s why we actively seek donations to support our bursary fund. Earlier this year, we awarded $50,000 in bursaries to 23 youth – the most we’ve ever awarded in our 122 year history. While it seems like a lot, we know we need could do so much more if we had support from people like you. Go to our website for more information on how you can make a donation to bursaries or our other charitable programs.

A parent is calling after hours about a conflict with their teen

Direction 1 of Strategic Plan – Strengthening Families

It’s 6:00 PM. Our offices are closed and most of our staff has gone home. But for a worker answering calls after hours the day isn’t over. There’s a parent calling about a serious conflict with their son over drug use. It’s at a crisis point and the parents don’t know what to do or where to turn for help. Our worker listens, asks questions and then suggests strategies and referrals to Agency and community services. The call lasts more than 30 minutes. It will be the start of a series of conversations with the family over the next few months as they try to find a way forward, together. We’ll be there with them for that journey, just as we are on this night on the phone. We are always available to help, 24 hours, seven days a week.

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