A BRIEF HISTORY OF NATIVE CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES OF TORONTO
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is Ontario’s only full-service, off-reserve child welfare agency under the direct control and management of the Native community.
In 1985, the Ontario government formally acknowledged the need for a culturally based approach to providing child welfare services to Native people. The Child and Family Services Act was amended to recognize that:
"Indian and Native people should be entitled to provide, wherever possible, their own child and family services, and that all services to Indian and Native children and families should be provided in a manner that recognizes their culture, heritage and traditions and the concept of the extended family."
While these provisions refer directly to reserve communities, both the Province of Ontario and the Toronto Native community agreed that the Native population of Toronto was large enough to support and benefit from its own child welfare agency.
From 1985 to 1988, the developmental phase took place, involving extensive consultation within the Native and non-Native communities, the incorporation of a Board of Directors, and the setting of bylaws, a mission statement and service objectives. We presented our first service plan to the Ministry of Community and Social Services in January 1988, and funding was provided on April 1, 1988.
Throughout the 1990s the agency focused on developing quality services that met the felt needs of our children and their families. We implemented a range of culturally based programs and services that reflect the diverse needs of the Toronto Native community. In 1998, we were named as the first winner of the Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Award. The annual award, the largest of its kind in Canada, provides a gift of $50,000 to an Ontario-based organization whose work has significantly improved the lives of needy children.
In 2004, after almost 20 years of negotiating a mandate under the Child and Family Services Act, NCFST became a full Children's Aid Society. This event was the culmination of a process envisioned by our elders and represents the beginning of a self-determined and accountable Child Welfare system in the city of Toronto.