Number of children in foster care.

According to the Canadian Census 2016 there were 28,030 (0.5% of all children between the age of 0 and 14 years) children living in foster care.

The Census reports that 32, 505 children were living with grandparents and another 22,610 children living with other relatives.

Children in foster care in Canada are called ‘permanent wards’

Of the children in foster care in 2016, 4,300 Aboriginal children under 4 years were in foster care.

7.7% of children in the 0-4 age group in Canada in 2016 were of Aboriginal identity but as a percentage of children in foster care they were at 51.2% (Statistics Canada 2016).

Agency responsible for foster care in Canada

In Canada each province and territory are legally responsible for their own child welfare services. The responsible agency is the provincial or territory’ social service department.

The Federal government (Indigenous Services Canada) has the responsibility to fund child welfare services for Indigenous children living in First Nation communities across Canada

Who can foster in Canada?

In principle any adult, single or couple, can become a foster carer in Canada, but you will be assessed to see if you are suitable.

Are there any restrictions on who can foster in Canada?

You need to have Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status.

Are there age restrictions on who can foster in Canada?

The lower age limit can vary from province to province. For example, it is 25 years in Quebec. In most states the minimum age is 21 years but it can be as low as 18 years.

Payment of foster carers

Foster care is administered and paid for by the province and territories resulting in different payment structures in each.

Who provides foster care services?

This varies between provinces, but the common factor is that there are not for profit organisations and for profit companies providing these services.

Fostering and kinship support groups

The Canadian Foster Family Association works at a national level in collaboration with provincial and territorial foster family associations.

The CFFA is based in Northwest Territories and may be contacted at:



Phone: (867) 766-3326

Support groups for young people in care and ageing out of care.

Youth in Care Canada is the national youth in care network, an umbrella organisation for networks and groups across Canada.



Phone: Toll free 1-800-790-7074 or (613) 327-4317

Key legislation

Each province and territory have their own legislation in this area.