Foster/Alternative Care

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) makes every effort to ensure that children and families remain together while receiving child and family wellbeing services. In certain situations, children and youth are unable to remain with their caregivers and must be placed in alternative care. Alternative Care is about a community’s effort to provide extra care, love and support to children and youth, and their families. At Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, our mission, vision, and mandate is to place children/youth with family and community first, and if this cannot be arranged, an appropriate alternative care home will be secured. The Alternative Care Program provides out-of-home placement inclusive of customary care, community care, kinship care and adoption.

To speak with a screener about becoming an alternative care provider, please call (416) 969-8510.

Alternative Pathways to Care Include:

Customary Care

Customary Care is the care and supervision of an Aboriginal child by a person who is not the child’s direct caregiver, according to the customs and traditions of the child’s band or Aboriginal community. Customary Care Agreements (CCA) recognize that Aboriginal children and youth thrive when family connections and cultural traditions are preserved and protected.

NCFST will work closely and cooperatively with the family and Aboriginal communities to promote this placement before any court application is made. The MCCSS has set out the standards and guidelines for the application process. Any family or community member who is considering Customary Care is welcome to contact NCFST to request further information and explore eligibility.

NCFST will work closely and cooperatively with the family and Aboriginal communities to promote this placement before any court application is made. The MCCSS has set out the standards and guidelines for the application process. Any family or community member who is considering Customary Care is welcome to contact NCFST to request further information and explore eligibility.

Child and Family Well-being Agencies and Children’s Aid Societies are mandated under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) to make all reasonable efforts to pursue a plan for customary care for all First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in need of protection.

A child’s and caregiver’s band must be consulted and support a CCA through a Band Council Resolution (BCR). The child’s biological parents must also support the agreement in conjunction with NCFST and an identified care provider. Children over the age of 6 must consent to the agreement and will be provided legal counsel to voice their consent.

An identified CCA provider must complete a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) home study and complete Parent Resource for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) pre-service training. Their placement will be supported and supervised by NCFST to ensure the child’s needs are being met.

Once a child is placed in customary care, all protection applications are withdrawn from the courts allowing caregivers the additional time to address protection concerns and continue on their journey of healing and recovery.  Under a CCA,  NCFST will continue to assess and work with the caregiver to mitigate risks so the child may return home wherever possible.

For more information on Customary Care, please see:

Community Caregiver

We are looking for a live-in caregiver with experience working alongside at-risk Indigenous youth

We are seeking a compassionate and dedicated Community Caregiver to join our anti-human trafficking home for at-risk youth. Working alongside a close-knit group of caring professionals, you will be responsible for providing primary care and support to young persons, ensuring their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs are met.

As the primary Community Caregiver, you will be supported by Family Support Workers in the home. Family Support Workers will be on a rotation, providing additional coverage. The community caregiver will also be supported by NCFST’s holistic services.

Key Responsibilities

  • Maintain a loving, supportive, and inclusive household.
  • Provide a sense of routine and normalcy.
  • Assist with daily living activities and building life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene.
  • Collaborate with other members of our team, including family support staff, social workers, therapists, and medical professionals, to ensure that the needs of our young people are met.
  • Monitor and maintain accurate and up-to-date records of progress and interventions of young persons living at the home.
  • Communicate effectively with youth, their families, community members, colleagues, and partners.

Additional Considerations

  • Our organizations, including the Anti-Human Trafficking home, are inclusive spaces.
  • Strong cultural and community connection is considered an asset.
  • Preference will be given to those with lived experience and to those with experience working with at-risk Indigenous youth and/or human trafficking survivors.

Screening/Application Process

While we must undertake a rigorous and comprehensive approach to screening caregivers, we promise to be with you every step of the way. We are committed to reducing barriers wherever possible, streamlining processes, and walking alongside you in your journey to becoming a caregiver.

How to Apply

Ready to become a specialized caregiver? Please email our Alternative Care team at [email protected]. We will respond to your email enquiry within 48 hours.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Kin Care

Kin Care, also referred to as Kinship Care, is an alternative care arrangement in which an identified relative, community member or person known to a child is willing to provide care to a child or youth under standards set out by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). It differs from fostering in that the Kin Caregiver provides care for a specific child or youth (and usually occurs when a child’s caregiver is not in support of their child coming into care). Kin Care providers will be supported directly by a both a Resource Worker and Child and Family Well-being Worker.

Kin Care is often considered when customary care is not an option because a child and their family do not meet the standards outlined under the Child, Youth and Family Service Act.

A Kin Care provider must:
  • meet the application benchmarks outlined by NCFST
  • complete a SAFE home study and PRIDE pre-service training
  • be willing to be supervised and supported by a NCFST Resource Worker and Child and Family Well-being Worker;
  • comply with the licensing standards and regulations set out by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS);
  • demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out daily caregiving duties; and
  • work collaboratively and respectfully with the child’s caregiver and worker.
NCFST supports  Kin Care providers through access to cultural and family supports and other community services, while providing ongoing financial assistance to support the child’s basic needs.

Foster Care

When a First Nations, Inuit or Métis child cannot remain with their caregivers and neither Customary Care or Kin Care is available, NCFST will look for alternative caregiving under the fostering model. Placements can be both long and short term. The foster parent will be expected to work closely with caregivers, workers and community members to ensure the child’s needs are met in accordance the standards and guidelines set out by MCCSS.

Are you ready to open your heart and home? For a lifelong journey and connection.

Those interested in providing alternative care must demonstrate a genuine willingness and commitment to adhere to our service model to provide safe, stable and nurturing homes rooted in the traditions and values of the child’s Aboriginal community. They must also be prepared to adhere to standards of care mandated by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).

If you desire to make a difference in an Aboriginal child’s life and are committed to working cooperatively with our service model in a non-judgemental, respectful and culturally compassionate way, you are welcome to contact a screener at NCFST to discuss becoming an alternative care provider. They will gather information from you and forward to an alternative care staff who will then call you to complete a preliminary assessment.  If eligible you will be contacted to explore the next steps in the process.

The Aboriginal world view maintains that our children are sacred and that they hold the key to the future of healthy, strong and resilient communities. Every effort will be made by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) to preserve the family by working together with caregivers to address concerns and making available culturally-safe wraparound supports and other community links to build upon a family’s existing strengths.

Sometimes the challenges facing a caregiver do not allow for a child to safely remain in their home, or a caregiver may voluntarily place a child in care to give them time to access the support they need to resolve identified risks. Every effort will be made to place the child with extended family or community members in other alternative care arrangements such as Customary or Kin Care.  If this is not possible, a child or youth may come into foster care.

While foster care is not a substitute for a healthy family, foster providers work together with the caregiver, identified community members and NCFST workers to provide a holistic experience that nurtures a child’s spiritual and cultural needs and supports the  development of a strong Aboriginal identity.

Our internal foster homes are thoroughly assessed and approved under SAFE home study and PRIDE pre-service training models.  Homes are licensed by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) and must comply with provincial standards and regulations under the Child Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA).  Foster home providers are supported by a NCFST Resource Worker and must comply to the policies and principles set out by NCFST.  They are provided with the child’s history and will receive regular support and guidance from their workers to engage collaboratively, respectfully and non-judgementally with the family.
Every foster care provider is expected to support the traditions of a child or youth in their care by attending culturally specific trainings and teachings through NCFST as well as other Aboriginal and mainstream services. Foster care providers will also participate in service planning and attend plans of care with caregivers and workers to ensure that the voices of the caregiver and child are heard.

Permanency Planning/Adoption

When children are unable to return to their caregivers or be placed in customary care, Kin Care, or foster care, adoption can be considered as a permanency option. Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will only consider adoption when all alternative care options have been exhausted.

For more information, please see: Permanency Planning/Adoption.