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Performance Indicators

Performance Indicators

The child welfare sector of Ontario is committed to using data to continuously improve the services it provides to children and families. This page takes you through the journey of what is a “performance indicator” in the context of child welfare, why performance indicators are important and the next steps of the Performance Indicator Project for children’s aid societies in Ontario.

Child Welfare Data and Results Overview

In 2009, the Ontario Minister of Child and Youth Services established a Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare. One of the commission’s recommendations was to “implement a new approach to accountability and system management.” Performance indicators were one of the mechanisms put forward by the commission to measure service performance in the outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families on a provincial level. Provincial performance indicators were also suggested as a way to measure organizational capacity and governance effectiveness.

The performance indicators are designed to assist Children’s Aid Societies with answering these key questions:

  1. What is important about work a Children’s Aid Society does?
  2. How can we better understand the impact services are having on children, youth, and families we serve?
  3. What is the agency’s capacity to improve?

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies was given leadership of the Performance Indicators Measurement and Management Project. The project is a multiyear process involving: performance indicator development, data collection, data analysis, and public reporting. Leading the project has involved:

  • Building capacity within Children’s Aid Societies to extract their data from six different legacy case management systems and upload into OCANDS (the Ontario Child Abuse and Neglect Data System based at the University of Toronto)
  • Developing tools to validate and interpret the data
  • Developing new governance, aboriginal, and policy performance indicators
  • Creating mechanisms to report performance indicators to agency boards, the Ministry, and the public

Facts and Figures

To date, there have been 26 provincial performance indicators approved by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services measuring the following five areas:  16 service performance indicators measuring the safety, permanency and well-being of a child, 6 organizational capacity performance indicators and 4 governance effectiveness performance indicators.

Of those 26 provincial performance indicators approved, five have been identified as the publicly reported service performance indicators:

  • The recurrence of child protection concerns in a family after an investigation
  • The recurrence of child protection concerns in a family after ongoing protection services were provided
  • The days of care by placement type
  • The time to permanency
  • The quality of the caregiver-youth relationship

There are 38 Children’s Aid Societies reporting their individual agency performance indicator results. Two Children’s Aid Societies that were mandated by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in 2014-2015 will report their performance indicator results going forward.  Seven of the Children’s Aid Societies are not able to calculate their performance indicator results due to significant technical and resource limitations which are being addressed by the project.

What is next in performance measurement?

The performance indicators project is a long-term initiative whose goal is to improve the delivery of services and to increase accountability. Establishing a performance measurement and management system takes years of development and requires a significant time and resource investment from every stakeholder. The project has recently finished its first phase. Many agencies have collected and migrated their data to the provincial system and five service performance indicators were publicly reported in March of 2015.

In the second phase of the project the work of migrating data from all Children’s Aid Societies to the provincial system will continue. As this project moves forward the number of performance indicators reported publicly will continue to grow. The second phase of the project will also focus on understanding the data. In some cases it is not yet clear what an “improved” indicator score might be. Work has already begun with academic partners to develop this understanding. In the coming years there will be continuing work on developing more indicators including Aboriginal specific performance indicators. To see the results of the first five provincial performance indicators click on this link: OACAS Data Results

The following link will provide you with information on our Performance Data in the areas of child-safety, permanency, and well-being: KHCAS PI Summary 2019.

To obtain more information on the public reporting of Children’s Aid Society performance data, information is available on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services Website here.  This information is also available in French here.

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