FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can use the services of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto?
We service Native families and children in the Toronto area, including First Nations, Métis, Inuit and all those with Aboriginal heritage who choose to be served by our Agency.
Is there a fee for your programs and services?
There is no fee for our programs and services.
What can I do if I’m not satisfied with the service I got from NCFST?
We are committed to offering the best service possible to the Native community of Toronto. If you, as a client, have concerns about how we are addressing your needs, please start by talking to your counsellor.
If the problem is not resolved at this level, please refer to the Ministry of Children and Youth's brochure "Do you have a complaint about services you have sought or received from an Ontario Children's Aid Society?" You may request a copy of the brochure from your counsellor or from the reception area at any of our locations, or click here to read it online.
Is NCFST a Children’s Aid Society?
We are the Children’s Aid Society for the Native community, but we also provide many other services for adults, children, youth and families.
What is a Children’s Aid Society?
A Children's Aid Society (CAS) is a non-profit agency that provides help and support to children and their families, including protective services for children at risk.
Established under the authority of The Child and Family Services Act, we are governed by a board of directors elected from the local community and by the membership at large. Board members have a specific interest in the welfare of children and offer individual skills to assist in running the agency. The board of directors reflects the opinions of the community it serves. Programs and services are developed in response to the needs of children and families in the local community.
Here are a few questions and answers about child welfare. For more detailed information, click on the “Protecting Children” tab at the top of this page.
What is child abuse?
Abuse is hurting a child physically or emotionally or by sexual molestation. Neglect is failing to provide proper care or depriving a child of support and affection. For more detailed descriptions of the different kinds of abuse and neglect, click here.
What should I do if I think a child is being abused or neglected?
We have a moral obligation to protect our children from harm, so that they can live in safety and grow up to become our community’s leaders.
It is your legal obligation to report any suspicion of child abuse to a Children's Aid Society. Call us - 24 hours a day - at 416.969.8510. It's important to remember that you don't have to be sure that abuse is happening...call us even if it's just a suspicion, and leave it to our child protection professionals to make the determination. You may call us anonymously if you wish.
Is it illegal to spank my child?
NCFST does not condone spanking or other forms of corporal punishment. There are other ways to discipline your child that are much more successful. For some suggestions on positive parenting without physical punishment, click here.
In cases where excessive or inappropriate physical punishment has led or could lead to a child being injured, NCFST will respond.
My children were taken into care and I just found out I have to go to court. What should I know?
Here are a few questions and answers about fostering. For more detailed information, click on the “Foster Parenting” tab at the top of this page.
What is a foster parent?
A foster parent is someone who provides temporary care to a child who is unable to live with his or her natural family and is in the care of a Children’s Aid Society such as Native Child and Family Services. Foster parents provide a stable and supportive home for a child for however long he or she needs to be in care. The child takes part in family life like any other member of the family and participates in family and community activities. Where possible, it is always the intention of NCSFT to return children to their natural family. Most children admitted into care will return home.
Do I have to identify as Aboriginal to be a foster parent with NCFST?
To meet the needs of Aboriginal children who require our care, it is important that we recruit foster families who can match those needs. This includes an understanding of the cultural and spiritual identity of the child. Although it is preferable to place children with Aboriginal foster parents, you do not need to be Native to be a foster parent for NCFST; what is most important is a sincere desire to make a difference in the life of a child and a willingness to work with us to make sure his or her cultural and spiritual needs are met
What is the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster care is temporary; foster parents do not assume legal guardianship of the child and usually a child residing in a foster home will continue to have visits with members of the natural family. Where possible, the intention in fostering is to reunite the child with his or her natural family. Adoption, on the other hand, is a permanent arrangement; parents assume legal guardianship of the child and there is no contact with the natural family.
Why are children taken into care?
Children are admitted into care either by apprehension or parental consent for dozens of different reasons, including physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, lack of supervision, lack of housing, parental illness, behaviour problem, emotional rejection, severe parent-child conflict. In some instances children have been abandoned or parents are too ill or troubled to provide care for their children.
What are the ages of children who are in care?
Homes are needed for children aged newborn to 18. (Young adults between the ages of 19 and 21 may be supported on Extended Care and Maintenance.) In consultation with a social worker, foster parents may choose the age range of the child(ren) they would like to care for. The child’s developmental level, needs, religion, culture, language, and the foster parent’s level of skills and comfort are all taken into consideration when matching a child with a foster family.
How long would a child be living with me?
Some children might live with a foster family for a few days, weeks, or months. Others may live with a foster family for years. In some cases, a child may spend his or her entire childhood in care. For the most part, children tend to live with a foster family for a matter of months. In fostering it is always hoped that a child can be returned to his or her natural family. In some cases, the parents have to demonstrate that changes have taken place in order to make the home safe again. When a child is admitted into care, a plan is developed with goals and expectations and time frames. Foster families are involved in the planning for their foster child(ren) and receive training to help them to do this well.
How many children can I care for?
We believe that one child in a foster home is the optimal choice. Some of our experienced foster parents, however, may care for up to four children at any given time, provided they have adequate space in their home to do so. No more than two children can be under the age of two. Exceptions to these limits may apply in the case of siblings in order to keep them together.
Does a foster child need to have his or her own bedroom?
Ideally, a foster child should have his or her own bedroom, and is not permitted to share a bedroom with a biological child of the foster parents. The bedroom must have a door and a window, a dresser and appropriate bedding. It is preferred that the child’s bedroom be located on the same level of the home as the parent’s. Please note that a child may not share a room with an adult unless the needs of an infant or illness of a child require such an arrangement. The adults in the home need to have their own bedroom, as opposed to sleeping in a living room or den.
Will my beds be filled all the time?
No. There may be times when a bed or beds in your home will not be filled. It may be your choice, or it may be because a child whose needs are a match and a fit for your home and skills is not currently in need of placement.
Can single people foster?
Yes. We have many wonderful foster parents who are single, some of whom have children of their own and some who don’t. Couples who have been living in a stable common law relationship for two years may also apply to foster.
Can I become a foster parent if I am gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered?
Yes, sexual orientation or identity does not exclude you from becoming a foster parent.
Do I have to be a stay-at-home Mom or Dad?
Not necessarily. However, the foster parent or parents must have time to commit to a child. For children whose lives have already been disrupted, consistency of care is crucial. Some foster parents may work out of their home and others may have considerable flexibility in their work so that they can be there for a child who may, for example, be sick and unable to attend school. Similarly, they have the means to care for a child during summer months and other holidays.
Couples or single applicants who work outside the home will be asked to provide a support plan, detailing their care arrangements for a child during brief periods when their work schedule prevents them from being available. Keep in mind that if full-time fostering does not seem a possibility for you, you can always consider relief or part-time fostering, which would involve weekends and a week or two now and then, particularly during summer holidays.
Would my beliefs about particular issues prevent me from fostering?
NCFST embraces families and children from diverse backgrounds. Our foster parents represent diversity in age, sexual orientation, religion, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. We are looking for foster families who are respectful of these diversities and who are flexible and able to value differences.
Can I foster if I rent my home/apartment, or do I have to own my home?
Yes, you can foster if you are renting. Foster parents live in apartments, townhouses, and houses.
What supports are available for foster parents?
A number of supports are available: a 24 hour on-call worker, a social worker assigned to the foster family to help meet their needs, a social worker for every child who is in care, foster parent support groups that meet regularly, and our Foster Parent Association.
What financial supports are provided?
Foster parents are not employees and do not receive a salary. They receive a daily rate or per diem for each child in their care. The money you receive is non-taxable. It is considered reimbursement for expenses incurred and foster parents do not claim it as income. Foster parents are also reimbursed for expenses such as the foster child’s clothing and school supplies. All medical and dental expenses are covered as well.
How long is the application process and what’s involved?
The application process takes about four to six months. It involves two main components: a home-study whereby a social worker will interview the family and survey the physical lay-out of the home; and Pre-Service Training, a mini preparatory course designed to prepare you for your new role as a foster parent. The training program is approximately 20 hours in total, usually running an evening or two a week for four to eight weeks and sometimes a full day on Saturday. The program covers such things as policies and procedures of fostering, child management, discipline strategies and how to respond to a child who may have been physically or sexually abused.
How can I become a foster parent?
Contact us at 416.969.8510. We will answer any additional questions you have as well as explain details about the application process. Each foster parent applicant will be carefully assessed so that we may ensure the best possible parenting can be provided to children in care.
Here are a few questions and answers about adoption. For more detailed information, click on the “Adoption” tab at the top of this page.
Do I have to identify as Aboriginal to adopt from NCFST?
Priority is given to Aboriginal adoptive parents. If you do not identify as Aboriginal but would like to be considered as an adoptive parent, we will certainly discuss this with you, but please bear in mind that we rarely place our children with non-Aboriginal families. We would encourage you to contact your local Children’s Aid Society for more information about adoption. Click here to locate the CAS in your area.
How do I get started?
After reviewing the information on adoption on this website, contact our adoption department at 416.969.8510 to request an application package. For more information about the application and approval process, click here.
How long do I have to wait to adopt a child?
There are no standard waiting periods or waiting lists. Everything depends on the right match. Adoption placements are based on the child's need, so the waiting time depends on an appropriate match being made between a child needing adoption, and a family approved for adoption.
Once the match is made, there may be several visits to allow the child to get to know the new family and surroundings before moving into the home. By law, there's a minimum six-month adjustment period from the time a child moves into the new home until the adoption is completed. A longer adjustment period may be necessary depending on the needs of the child and the adoptive family. This is the time when any problems that might arise in the developing relationship can be worked out. When everybody's ready to complete the adoption, Native Child and Family Services applies to the court for an adoption order. This makes the adopting parents the child's legal parents, and the child a legal member of their family.
Can I adopt as a single applicant?
Yes, we accept single applicants as long as you have some form of a support system around you.
Why would I not be able to proceed to the Home Study phase of the process?
There could be several reasons why an applicant would not proceed to the Home Study phase. We are looking for applicants who are healthy, emotionally and financially stable and are able to provide a good loving home. We expect that our applicants not have a criminal record of a serious, recent and relevant nature. Additionally, as we have so few infants, we only will do home studies for those interested in special needs children, over 2 years old.
Do we have to be wealthy to adopt a child?
No. We are looking for financially stable applicants who are able to provide for a child.
Will adopting through NCFST cost anything?
No. There are no fees involved in adopting a child through a Children’s Aid Society.
Can I specify what type of child I am looking to adopt?
Yes. Through your Home Study process, you will explore what type of child you and your family would feel most comfortable with and what type of child would be the best match for your family.
Can I adopt more than one child at a time?
You can only adopt more than one child at a time if the children are siblings. In all other cases, if you would like to adopt more than one child, you must wait until your first adoption has been completed before initiating the adoption process for the second time. If you pursue adoption for a second time, you will need to have an update of your Home Study, medical reports, reference letters and police checks.