The following strategies, initiatives and key performance indicators were developed by The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa in 2020 in alignment with our 5-year strategic plan. From 2020 and beyond, we have taken significant strides to further our commitment to Excellence and Innovation.
Path to 2025: Excellence and Innovation
Children, Youth & Families
We aim to strengthen family capacity to create lasting safety for children and youth and support a successful transition into adulthood for youth leaving care.
Partners, Communities & Stakeholders
We work to embed leading, evidence-based/evidence informed practices as well as sector driven initiatives throughout the Society’s work (e.g. Signs of Safety, Family Finding, Family Based Care), explore and evaluate emerging evidence-based/informed practices and provide professional learning and tools to support quality intervention and collaboration focused on safety and well-being.
Staff, Managers & Supervisors
We strive to strengthen the capacity of CASO and the child welfare system through monitoring and evaluation to inform our work and be responsive to service needs and system pressures.
Signs of Safety (SOS)
Our agency has been on a SOS journey over the past few years and this practice remains integrated in our work towards excellence and innovation. Keeping children, families and their natural networks at the center of all decisions gives back power to families to make the best decisions for their children, ultimately improving the overall experience in creating safety for children and youth.
Evaluating client satisfaction on a regular basis is integral to better understanding their experience and identify areas of improvement.
In 2022, CASO launched an updated version of its client satisfaction survey and is working with a consultant to understand what the drivers of good service are. Based on these findings, a work plan to improve service outcomes will be developed.
In 2021, the Society determined a need to renew our focus on how we use group care resources for placements of children and youth in care. A committee-based approach was used to conduct research activities that would help us to determine evidence-based recommendations that would support a more intentional use of group care resources. As a result of this work, the Society has:
- Developed and launched a committee-based approach to reviewing all group care placements that occur with the goal of supporting a more intentional use of these resources. The approach, that is currently being piloted, involves a support meeting being called every time a child or youth is initially placed into group care.
- Following the meetings, committee members enter data into a group care database to support ongoing analysis of trends in group care usage, including demographic information about children and youth in group care, and detailed information about why they are in group care.
We believe that these activities will ultimately lead to a more intentional use of group care resources, reducing our usage when appropriate and ensuring the maintenance of social networks when group care placements are absolutely necessary.
GPS Connect Program
In 2019, CASO launched GPS Connect, a 12-week program to help youth who will soon or have recently transitioned out of care. The program has since become a mainstay at the Society, running two cohorts a year since launching (including a move to virtual during the pandemic) with the goal of:
- Strengthening youths’ relationships with a natural mentor;
- Educating youth about relevant community resources; and,
- Teaching critical life skills (finding housing, cooking, budgeting, etc.).
A comprehensive program evaluation took place which highlighted positive outcomes and improved experiences. For this reason, we will continue to offer this program in 2020 and monitor progress for program improvements.
POD Model for Learning
The POD Model for Learning Support Program was developed during the pandemic as a learning support program for youth in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa. This initiative was created to assist youth in their academic success through:
- Concrete academic support;
- Positive social engagement; and,
- Advocacy with schools and Boards to ensure students have their educational needs met.
Evaluations of the POD Model for Learning program have continuously demonstrated that youths’ engagement in the program is linked to completing their attempted credits at a higher rate than their in-care peers that do not take part in the program, and at higher rates than in years before the program was offered. Youth also report that the program supports their socioemotional wellbeing and their engagement in school.
Preparing Youth for Independence
In 2021, an initiative was launched with the goal of developing tools and guidelines that would ensure that youth are well supported and prepared as they approach their transition out of child welfare care and into adulthood. A committee was formed with broad representation from across the Society to investigate and develop tools and guidelines that met these needs. Based on research and consultations conducted the Society is now:
- Pursuing the development of a website geared toward supporting youth as they approach their transition into adulthood, and thereafter. The website will include things like important information about programs to support employment, education, physical and mental health, and housing; detailed instructions will be shared on how to access important documents like government identifications, how to set up bank accounts, and more.
- Developed and launched the Interdependence Roadmap, a guide for workers and youth to help plan what work ought to be accomplished with youth by which age in order to ensure that we are doing our very best to prepare youth for adulthood.
- Amended the Interdependence Roadmap to incorporate all changes under the Ready, Set, Go! directive that was implemented in April, 2023.
Youth Leaving Care to Independence
CASO provides youth in care opportunities to develop skills and successfully prepare for independence. If we were successful in our preparation of youth in care, prior to leaving care, youth will have the following critical tools:
- A support network and plan for ongoing support;
- A list of identified resources specific to their needs (e.g. mental health supports);
- A list of community resources and contact information (e.g. housing, education, employment and cultural supports);
- Connections to their community and culture;
- All their important documents (e.g., government issue documents); and,
- An understanding of their personal story, both before and after coming into care.
Education Championship Initiative
The objective of this initiative is to bring together local educational institutions and community agencies to help prioritize educational achievements for children and youth in care. Our work plan over the next year will focus on helping children and youth in care with the following:
- Achieving school readiness;
- Remaining in school of origin where appropriate and possible;
- Transferring seamlessly between schools;
- Fully participating in educational/vocational experiences;
- Improving graduation rates;
- Increasing school participation and engagement;
- Engaging youth in decision-making;
- Increasing youth attendance at college, university or trades and/or they successfully transition to work and employment; and,
- Ensuring that youth have supports once they arrive in post-secondary to support them to be successful and remain in school.
Key Performance Indicators
- Client satisfaction improvement.
- Number of days in care by placement type.
- Number of children and youth placed with customary care or kin service.
- Decrease the use of group care and increase the use of family-based care.
- The recurrence of child protection concerns in a family after an investigation or after ongoing services were provided.
- Number of youth exiting care reporting feeling ready and supported.
- Number of youth in care graduating from high school and achieving post-secondary degrees or vocational trade certifications.