Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters are vital to those who are fleeing violence and for women, can often be the first step towards rebuilding personal and financial independence.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) developed Emergency Shelter Standards (standards) for MCSS-funded VAW shelters. These standards outline the ministry’s minimum requirements and expectations to bring consistent, high quality service to women and their families accessing emergency shelter services in Ontario.
In May 2015, MCSS created two subject-matter-expert working groups (English and French), with representatives from 89 shelters across Ontario, to help develop the standards.
In June 2015, MCSS invited all ministry-funded VAW emergency shelters to participate in consultations on the proposed standards.
In July 2015, MCSS released a consultation report which was sent to all shelters along with a revised version of the standards. The purpose of the report was to provide a summary of the feedback received on areas of the standards that garnered significant attention at the consultations and in written submissions.
Shelters were given the opportunity to provide final written feedback to the ministry, prior to the release of the standards in September 2015.
In reviewing the feedback, the ministry balanced the needs of VAW emergency shelters, the priorities of the ministry, and the needs of the women and dependents accessing shelter services.
Throughout the consultation process shelters noted that they would need sufficient time to revise their internal policies to reflect the standards, develop the associated procedures, and review the standards with the Board of Directors/Chief and Council.
MCSS has required all funded shelters to work toward formal implementation of the standards by April 1, 2016.
MCSS recognizes that some shelters may need more time and support for policy development, staff orientation and change management processes, and they may not be able to achieve full implementation by April 2016. In these cases, MCSS regional offices will work with the shelters to achieve full implementation as quickly as possible and by April 1, 2017 at the latest.