News & Events

Newly Released Customary Care Guide

Posted on: March 1, 2024

The Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO) releases the Customary Care Guide. The Guide serves to raise awareness of Customary Care in the context of child welfare and ultimately, increase its application and use. Far too many First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth are placed in foster care when Customary Care is a viable option.

What is Customary Care?

In the context of child welfare, Customary Care reflects First Nations, Inuit and Métis traditional practices of caring for, protecting and looking after children. Customary Care is an out-of-home placement option for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth. It is different than foster care. This approach aims to maintain a child or youth’s connection to their community, culture and family and is often considered when determining the best interests of the child in situations where removal from the home is necessary.

Why is Customary Care not used?

Lack of understanding within the child welfare sector. And, despite provincial and federal legislation recognizing Customary Care, there is little enforcement to ensure Children’s Aid Societies serving Indigenous children and youth are considering and applying Customary Care whenever possible.

How do we build awareness about Customary Care?

The Customary Care Guide recently released by ANCFSAO serves to increase awareness within the child welfare sector. And going beyond that, it is our shared responsibility to educate the general population about Customary Care. This is especially important for Indigenous children, youth and families who find themselves working alongside a Children’s Aid Society. Indigenous families have the right to Customary Care as an out-of-home placement option. It begins with education. We want Indigenous families to feel empowered to ask for the service and supports they need and deserve.

Read a copy of the Customary Care Guide here.