Expansion and Update of the ACO Programs

Date: March 31, 2021 Author: Madison Lee Categories: AdoptOntario
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WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services announced funding to the Adoption Council of Ontario on November 19, 2020.  The media release from MCCSS stated “the funding will help bring more prospective adoptive parents, children and youth together permanently through the development of a centralized intake service and expansion of online matching”. The Adoption Council of Ontario will provide additional supports and training for families, post-adoption. AdoptOntario, a program that is part of the ACO, will expand and update their database services so that AdoptOntario can provide access to the widest range of options for children or youth who need an adoption plan. Through consultation with Children’s Aid Societies across the province we have created a framework to ensure that children who need an expanded recruitment approach are identified. 

As part of this expansion the ACO will provide a centralized referral portal for prospective adoptive parents. The vision is to create a seamless adoption system that can provide better customer service to prospective adoptive parents. The central referral process includes providing consistent information and navigation to all prospective families and to offer front end education to prospective adoptive parents under the guidance of adoption professionals. Once families have a deeper understand of adoption in general and public adoption in particular then families will be referred to their local children’s aid society to proceed with their interest. A centralized referral process will help provide families with dependable and accurate information about public adoption in Ontario. Front end orientation will ensure that families have a good understanding of public adoption in Ontario. 

CORE GUIDING VALUES

At the ACO we are guided by placing the child’s experience at the centre of our practices. You will notice that over the next year or two we will be updating our policies and practices. To start with our ARE profile outlines have been updated to reflect these principles. We must stay mindful that a child is more than diagnoses and behaviors.  They are humans who have a variety of characteristics and strengths. It is also true that they, and their family of origin, have experienced great losses and trauma on the journey that has brought them to AdoptOntario. Any planning and recruitment process must acknowledge that loss is a central feature of any permanency journey. 

The Adoption Council of Ontario is providing a centralized service on behalf of the MCCSS. We want to create a system in a collaborative process so that the practices at ACO and AdoptOntario are a support to the field of public adoption. The ACO is facilitating this process and local societies will retain control over which families and children are matched as well as which families get home studied and approved.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED SO FAR?

I started working in my role with the Modernization Steering Committee in Late November 2020. I have been reaching out to many Children’s Aid Societies to learn about their current practices and needs. In January I emailed as many Adoption Supervisors as possible and requested feedback about their current uses of AdoptOntario. Here’s what I learned: 

  • 30% of CAS respondents use AdoptOntario frequently.
  • 72% of CAS respondents like using AdoptOntario to find diverse applicants (culture, ethnicityrace and skill set).
  • 90% of CAS respondents believe the criteria used for matching children and families is due for an update.   
  • CASs are placing more and more children with Kin and so adoptions of unrelated child and parent is decreasing. 
  • CAS respondents would like more time to recruit and develop potential adoptive families so that children can have the best chance at a secure permanent home.
  • CAS respondents identified that another barrier to permanence for youth is the lack of ongoing permanency related supports for youth and their families. 
  • Our steering committee has met twice so far. We are a group of professionals who are deeply dedicated to creating an adoption system that is responsive to the needs of children.  

WHAT DOES A CHILD FOCUSED RECRUITMENT LOOK LIKE?

At AdoptOntario we strive to keep children at the centre of our recruitment plans. That means our clinical co-ordinators want to get to know the child well so they can tailor the recruitment plan for the child’s specific needs. Co-ordinators request updated information and assessment on a regular basis so that we are abreast of the child’s current needs.   

We updated our profile templates for the photo listing and for ARE. Similarly, we will be editing and updating our outlines for video scripts and other materials that get created while working with a Clinical Co-Ordinator. You will notice changes to our processes over the next year as well as meet new staff.  

Updates on the project:  

  • We are updating our professional site to make the inputting of data easier. In the new version of AdoptOntario you can expect that Child registration will be electronic, no more paper documents to download. If you already have children in our databank, their child profiles will migrate to the new system.  Don’t worry, we will be providing training on the new site prior to roll-out.  

  • Training will be offered on the data entry process prior to the new site going live. Workers who have existing children on the old system will have priority spot in the training to ensure they will continue to have access to their profiles. We will also be offering updated orientation regarding the AdoptOntario programs to help workers understand all the recruitment options that are open to all children who are registered with our program. That way you can maximize your ability to find the best home for any children on your caseload. 

ROLL OUT

Our new site is under construction so roll out plans are still in process. We will begin roll out with a pilot of 1-2 agencies. From there, it will roll out regionally. It is our intention to work collaboratively with the field, as much as possible, to create a schedule that considers workload. 

Do you have feedback or a question? We want to hear from you. Please email us at cimodernization.feedback@adoptontario.ca.