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In 2005-2006, the Ontario Government introduced the Child Welfare Transformation agenda. This agenda was meant to better meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families receiving child protection services and to promote family resilience.

As of November 30, 2006, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) put forth Policy Directive CW 005-06 which outlines when Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be accessed. ADR is a strategy meant to streamline court processes and to encourage alternatives to court. ADR is a strengths-based and collaborative approach to resolving child protection disputes; it encourages the involvement of the immediate family, extended family, and the community in the planning for children.

Bill 210 made amendments to the Child and Family Services Act through Bill 210 resulting in the requirement for Children’s Aid Societies to consider using ADR when resolving issues of child protection disputes.

Between February and October 2012, an evaluation of the ADR service delivery system was undertaken on behalf of the MCYS. Bay Consulting Group conducted this evaluation with the goal of determining whether or not the current system is achieving its goals efficiently and to provide recommendations for improvement.

As a result of the evaluation, the Provincial ADR Advisory Committee (PAAC) was established in 2015 to create a community of practice among ADR Practitioners and community partners (e.g. Children’s Aid Societies), and to promote relationship-building and networking at a provincial level. Through joint learning opportunities and sharing of best practices, the Committee supports improving practitioner accountability and model integrity across all ADR approaches. The Committee provides advice to the Ministry on various ADR initiatives, as needed. Also, the Committee is responsible for hosting a biennial Provincial ADR Symposium that will bring the ADR community together for learning, training, information sharing and dialogue. The work of PAAC is ongoing and is committed to:

  • Building a Community of Practice for ADR that would include discussions of trends, challenges, successes, best practices and current issues in the field of ADR
  • Providing Advice to the Ministry on upcoming initiatives such as updates to the Policy Directive and Service Description Schedules and developing data elements and outcome measures for reporting on ADR
  • Developing processes and resources for transfer payment agencies, societies and rostering agencies (George Hull Centre and OAFM) to support Practitioner Accountability and complaint management
  • Developing a Communication Strategy to ensure flow of information and consultation to stakeholders in the ADR community and back to the PAAC

In addition to the development of PAAC in 2015, the MCYS released an action plan to strengthen the ADR service delivery system in Ontario with a focus on culturally-appropriate ADR services for youth and families involved with CASs. With input from the Bay Consulting Group report, ADR stakeholders, and recommendations from the 2014 Symposium on Indigenous Approaches to ADR, this action plan was developed.  A key component of this plan is to support the development and delivery of a core training curriculum on Indigenous Approaches/ODR. This curriculum is intended to enhance training of Indigenous Approaches/ODR Practitioners and to increase understanding and use of Indigenous Approaches/ODR among CASs, the legal community (e.g., judiciary, legal counsel for children/families) and other relevant community partners (e.g. Indigenous and non-Indigenous community agencies). The intended outcomes of the core training curriculum are to:

  • Increase the capacity of existing Indigenous ADR Practitioners to provide effective Indigenous Approaches/ODR services and to build consistency in the provision of training to Practitioners across the province
  • Increase awareness and understanding of Indigenous Approaches/ODR services to promote the uptake of this service as an alternative to court in child protection disputes
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