Proposed policy directive to require children's aid societies to register children and prospective parents who are approved for adoption on the AdoptOntario website in accordance with the criteria and requirements set out in the directive.
Bill or Act:
Summary of Proposal:
Since 2006, the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) has managed AdoptOntario, a website that supports matching children in extended society care who are available for adoption with prospective parents who are approved for adoption across the province. AdoptOntario has a public site and a professional site, which includes a secure Adoption Resource Databank ("Databank"). The Databank uses an algorithm to determine appropriate proposed matches of children with prospective parents approved for adoption. Information on the Databank is only accessible to society adoption workers and adoption practitioners.
Currently, it is optional for societies to register children in extended society care eligible for adoption on the AdoptOntario website, including the Databank. The ministry has consistently heard from families that since public adoptions are facilitated through local societies, it is often difficult for a prospective parent who is approved for adoption to be matched with a child who is eligible for adoption but who resides in another area of the province and whose case is managed by a different society. Research shows that profiling children eligible for adoption on websites like AdoptOntario results in increased adoption placements for children and youth.
The policy directive would require societies to only register children in extended society care on the Databank where the following criteria is met:
• The society has confirmed the child is not from a First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
• The society has begun adoption planning for the child and an adoption match or placement has not been found in 90 days;
• The society has not placed a child in a foster-to-adopt or kinship placement; and
• The capable child has consented to registration. Societies must have age appropriate conversations with the child to seek consent and where the child is not capable, the society will only consent on behalf of the child if it is in the child's best interests.
The policy directive would also require societies to advise prospective parents who are approved for adoption on how to register on the AdoptOntario website within 90 days of the parents becoming approved for adoption, and approve the profiles of prospective parents who register themselves on the website within 45 days.
Additionally, the policy directive would require societies to ensure that relevant staff are knowledgeable about the requirements in the policy directive and complete training on the use of the Databank provided by the Adoption Council of Ontario. Societies would be required to confirm in writing to the ministry that the requirements in the directive have been implemented.
The policy directive would become effective upon the date it is issued. Societies would have a six-month transition period to be in full compliance with the directive.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The proposed policy directive will require children's aid societies to register children and prospective parents who are approved for adoption on the AdoptOntario website in accordance with the criteria and requirements set out in the directive.
It is anticipated this policy would have an impact on societies, as regulated entities, on their administrative requirements and costs. Administrative requirements and costs will be associated with society staff learning about policy changes, participating in brief training delivered by the Adoption Council of Ontario on use of the AdoptOntario website, and reporting to the ministry on compliance with the policy directive.
Administrative impact will be greatest in the 2021-2022 fiscal year as societies assess the cases of children and youth available for public adoption in their jurisdiction to determine which are eligible for an AdoptOntario profile and then adding those profiles. Administrative impacts will decrease in future years as the number of children in extended society care has been trending downward and societies will routinely consider and use the AdoptOntario website to support the public adoption process.
August 4, 2021
Comments Due Date:
September 20, 2021
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