2022 Edition

Youth Custody Services (CA-YCS) 5: Family Connections and Involvement

The youth, family, and organization work together to maintain an optimal level of family involvement during custody, and develop positive connections to support youth after release.


COA recognizes that involving families can be difficult, especially if youth are placed outside of their communities and far from their families. However, organizations should still strive to involve families to the extent possible, unless family contact is contraindicated. If family contact is contraindicated and the youth resides with someone other than a family member, it may be appropriate to involve that person instead.




Youth Custody Services promote public safety by providing youth with a supportive, structured setting that helps them address their needs and develop the attitudes and skills needed to make responsible choices, avoid negative behaviours, and become productive, connected, and law-abiding citizens.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for involving and serving youths' families
  • Resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served and their families
  • Review case records


CA-YCS 5.01

Youth and their family members are informed of the organization’s policies and procedures regarding visits and phone calls, and encouraged to maintain regular contact.


CA-YCS 5.02

Families are encouraged to participate in services for youth, to the extent possible and appropriate.
NA The organization provides only remand services.


CA-YCS 5.03

To strengthen the family’s ability to support and supervise youth, the organization helps family members:
  1. meet any unmet service needs;
  2. maintain and strengthen family relationships;
  3. prevent, manage, and resolve family conflicts;
  4. identify strengths that can help them meet future challenges; and
  5. prepare for the youth’s return to the family, when appropriate.
NA The organization provides only remand services.
Examples: The organization may help the family by, for example, providing family counseling, or linking family members with needed resources. Although family members may receive services at the facility, it may also be appropriate to provide or arrange for the delivery of services in the family’s community, especially when the family lives far from the facility. Some of this work may be done by an aftercare case manager, in the context of planning for reentry.


CA-YCS 5.04

The organization minimizes barriers to family involvement by:
  1. including family members in scheduling decisions;
  2. allowing participation through teleconferencing;
  3. assisting with transportation, accommodations, and childcare, as needed and to the extent possible;
  4. helping personnel develop and maintain positive relationships with family members; and
  5. providing an environment conducive to family visits and activities.
Examples: Personnel can develop positive relationships with family members and encourage their involvement by demonstrating: 
  1. sensitivity to the willingness of the family to be engaged;
  2. respect for family members’ autonomy and confidentiality;
  3. flexibility;
  4. persistence; and
  5. a non-threatening manner.