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Ontario Eliminating the Practice of Birth Alerts
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
The Ontario Government is eliminating the practice of birth alerts, as part of its extensive review of the child welfare system; including the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous and racialized children and youth.
Birth alerts are notifications sent by children's aid societies to hospitals when they believe a newborn may be in need of protection. This new approach will improve pre- and post-natal services by promoting collaboration between children's aid societies, hospitals, service providers, Indigenous partners and community-based service providers.
It has been reported the practice of birth alerts disproportionately affects racialized and marginalized mothers and families. Expectant mothers can be deterred from seeking prenatal care or parenting supports while pregnant due to fears of having a birth alert issued.
Birth alerts have never been required under provincial legislation and have been used inconsistently by children's aid societies across the province. Going forward, the government is directing children's aid societies to end the practice of using birth alerts by October 15, 2020. This means working with families, community partners and service providers to create a pre- and post-natal plan that supports the parents of newborns, to ensure more families stay together.