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Brief History of child protection in Peel Region

Until the late nineteenth century, orphaned, abused and neglected children depended on the ad-hoc intervention of relatives and neighbours, or they were committed to private (and often very bleak) institutions. John Joseph Kelso, former newspaper journalist, formed the Toronto Children’s Aid Society in 1891 devoted to provide for, and protect, abused, neglected and orphaned children.


The Toronto Children’s Aid Society was well received by civic officials and newspaper readers. In Peel, concerted efforts to establish a Children’s Aid Society began in October 1911 with the inaugural meeting of the Board of Directors held on April 23, 1912 at Grace Methodist Church in Brampton. Within two years of its incorporation, the Society was very active and was fast becoming a recognized presence in the community. Prominent Peel residents lent their efforts to the Society’s Board, including respected lawyer Albert Grenville Davis, father of former premier Bill Davis, and a succession of mayors, reeves, councillors, county wardens and regional chairs.


Timeline of other important events:

1935 – In response to the overwhelming need and demand of children’s services, Peel and Halton CAS organizations merged on November 4, 1935. They separated permanently in 1944 due to Peel County Council’s desire to take on a more influential role with the Society.


1950s – County Council provided the Society 75 cents a day for each child in care; the provincial grant was $1,000 a year per child. Poor economic and social conditions contributed to the ongoing need for growth and development of the Society’s structure and services.


1950s and early 1960s – A growing economy resulted in an increase in private funding for the agency. Additional services to families, including single mothers, were provided, including counseling, recreational activities, and educational expenses.


1966 – Peel Children’s Aid Society board members played a pertinent role in the amended Child Welfare Act, effective January 1, 1966. The Act and its regulations defined more clearly than previously the mandatory responsibilities of Children’s Aid Societies. Societies were also required to become more involved in “family services,” along the lines of the already existing Peel model.


1970 – The Peel Children’s Aid Society had approximately 50 employees and was considered the eighth largest jurisdiction in the province.


1974 – The inauguration of the regional government in Peel resulted in the Society’s name change – The Children’s Aid Society of the Region of Peel.


1984 – The Child & Family Services Act passed, combining a number of different streams including child protection and families in need of assistance. It was amended in 1999 placing more emphasis on safety of at-risk children and adding neglect to be a cause for protection.


1998 – The province assumed 100 percent funding of child protection services.


2002 – Peel Children’s Aid Foundation was formed to raise funds to support innovative and urgent programs for vulnerable children and youth involved with the agency.


2005 – The Ministry of Child and Youth Services introduce new child welfare reforms including matching service response to need; stronger emphasis on permanency and increased adoption.


2007 – The government introduces the Transformation Agenda – more flexible, sustainable outcome-focused service, greater emphasis on community partnership and expanded education support for children and youth in care.


2011 – Peel CAS announced its new strategic plan with a shift in its role within the community, including earlier intervention and providing support to more families, more collaboration with partners and more outreach to ethno-cultural communities, strong emphasis on anti-oppressive practice and focus on excellence.


Today, Peel Children’s Aid Society’s mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of children and strengthen families through partnership. Last year, the agency served more than 9,000 families and had over 550 full- and part-time staff.


Excerpts from, A Constant Friend: A History of the Peel Children's Aid Society by Tom Urbaniak, a former Board President of Peel Children's Aid Society. Full document available for download below.