A New Approach to Accountability and System Management

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The Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, Ontario.

Better information about service performance and child outcomes is crucial to strengthening accountability and securing sustainability. The child welfare system must demonstrate its value to funders, communities and the families it serves. Moreover, it is critical that the resources spent on services are effectively invested to delivering positive benefits for children and youth. Though the Commission has observed excellent work on the part of Children’s Aid Societies(CASs), it is difficult to demonstrate measurable results. Without clear expectations and accurate information, judgments about the effectiveness of CAS are made on the basis of unreliable sources, local anecdote or high profile child tragedy.

The current accountability requirements were introduced over many years and now lack an overarching framework and coherence. This has resulted in many separate, overlapping and, at times, conflicting mechanisms that taken together are overly‐focused on compliance to process and procedures instead of on measurable results. An over‐emphasis on compliance to prescribed standards and processes is not an effective approach to securing better child outcomes and service improvements. In fact, there is evidence that disproportionate reporting and audit diverts resources from serving children, de‐motivates professionals and obscures from view the results that services achieve. It is also clear that for a range of reasons,the current system of accountability negatively impacts Aboriginal children, families, communities and agencies.

There have been several efforts to strengthen accountability over the last decade. Some CASs have developed, and are currently using, excellent planning and performance systems that generate public reports and support service improvement. Over the years,the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and the sector have worked with researchers to develop performance measures, outcomes and more effective accountability mechanisms. The current work builds on these earlier efforts.

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Research Areas

Province / Territory
Canadian CW report