Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 3, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Children's Aid Society of Toronto was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- Children's Aid Society of Toronto provides exceptional family-friendly benefits, offering maternity and parental leave top-up for new mothers and fathers (including adoptive parents) of up to 70 per cent of salary for up to 38 weeks
- Along with a generous time off policy, Children's Aid Society of Toronto helps employees balance their personal and professional commitments with a variety of flexible work arrangements and up to 10 paid personal days, which can be scheduled as needed
- Children's Aid Society of Toronto supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses taken at external organizations (up to $1,750 annually) and in-house and online training
CAS of Toronto finds new ways to keep children safe
Ramona Chereches, director of intake services for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto), has no trouble explaining why she finds her work meaningful.
“I’m truly passionate about what I do,” says the 18-year veteran of the organization. “Keeping children safe and helping families and communities is incredibly rewarding. It feels good to go to work each day to be part of a team that can make such a big difference in the lives of so many people.”
Chereches also appreciates that in addition to being one of the largest child protection agencies in North America, CAS of Toronto is one of the most innovative.
“We are always thinking outside of the box in terms of the services we offer and how we can get better at what we do every day,” she says.
A key example is the recently implemented Journey to Zero program, which focuses on working with families, community partners and other social service agencies to help prevent children from having to come into care in the first place.
“Our journey is about changing the way we work,” says Paul Rosebush, CEO of CAS of Toronto. “Instead of the reactive stance the child welfare sector has been known for, ours is an approach based on early intervention and prevention.”
Part of that, adds Rosebush, is about staff training and getting team members to operate from a fundamentally different mindset.
“We don’t want our people to go in with the old attitude that we are here to investigate your family,” he says. “Rather, we are here to assess the situation, find out what your needs are and see how we can work together for an outcome that’s desirable.”
When it comes to hiring, Rosebush says, CAS of Toronto looks for people with a high degree of compassion and empathy. They must also be flexible and adaptable, he adds, because the situations they will face never occur the same way twice.
And because the work can often be stressful and challenging, resilience is another key attribute.
“We reinforce that resilience by setting ourselves up in teams and ensuring every frontline worker receives a lot of support and feedback,” says Rosebush.
To prevent potential staff burnout, CAS of Toronto offers a robust employee assistance program, including mental health wellness seminars, flexible work hours, a generous vacation package and counselling and support services for workers and their families.
The organization is also centred around a shared set of values, including putting children first, promoting trust, respect and honesty, and demonstrating excellence.
“A value we are really focusing on right now is diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Rosebush. “It’s front and centre in everything we do, from staff training to how we interact with families and the larger community.”
CAS of Toronto also places a strong emphasis on continual learning. The organization offered some 400 in-house training and development sessions last year, including ones on anti-bias training, anti-racism and personal wellness. CAS of Toronto covers the cost of external webinars and conferences as well as tuition reimbursement and up to one year’s leave for those who want to upgrade their education.
“You can’t be in the child protection sector without constantly wanting to learn about new practices and ideas that come forward every day,” says Chereches. “I really value the shared learning environment I’ve experienced here. We talk openly about how we do our work, hold one other accountable and support each other in the huge responsibility of finding the best ways to protect children and families.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Children's Aid Society of Toronto was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
- Children's Aid Society of Toronto's new strategic plan includes diversity, equity and inclusion, and the organization is currently in the process of rolling out an equity and anti-Black racism strategy that will be integrated into existing internal structures and departments, as well as used to inform new programs and initiatives -- anti-Black racism and cultural safety training was delivered to leaders in January 2020
- Children's Aid Society of Toronto has maintained the Out and Proud program for over 20 years to ensure its services are open, inclusive, safe, affirming and positive for the LGBT2SQ+ community as well as its employees -- and also established Out and Proud affirmation guidelines to assist employees, foster parents, volunteers and other child welfare organizations to create safe and inclusive spaces
- Furthermore, all of Children's Aid Society of Toronto's medical, dental and vision care benefits, as well as compassionate, maternity, parental and adoption leave policies apply to LGBT partners
"Being a Black Muslim woman, it has been a pleasure to be a part of an organization that leads with change and is intentional about engaging all identities inside and outside of the agency.” Nimo Samater, Anti-Black Racism Lead at Resources for Children and Youth