Child Support & Social Assistance

  1. Do my parents have to support me?

    If you are 16 or older and you were forced to leave home, your parents may still have to support you. For example, you are entitled to support if you were kicked out without a very good reason, or you left home because you were abused or being at home was unsafe, unbearable or impossible. Your parents do not have to support you if you are 16 or 17, and left home on your own free will. 

    Your parents must make sure that you have food, clothes and a place to live. Otherwise, they must provide enough money to get these necessities for you.

    You can apply for a Legal Aid Certificate from Legal Aid Ontario to pay a lawyer to help you seek child support from your parents. The amount of support you will get is based on your parents’ income, not on what you need. In general, your parents must provide support until you are 18 years old or longer if you are enrolled in a full-time educational program.


    Can I get a job when I leave home?

    Yes, you may work and keep your own income, even if you qualify for Ontario Works (see the following). However, you cannot work during school hours if you are under 18 and not have not graduated from high school.


    Can I get Ontario Works (“OW”, “welfare” or “social assistance”) to live on my own?

    If you are under 16, you are not entitled to receive social assistance as a single person. However, if you are living with an adult, such as a friend’s parent, they can ask to have the Child’s Tax Benefit and Ontario Child Benefit paid to them to help support you. They can also ask the Ontario Works office for help to support you.

    If you are 16 or 17, you can apply for social assistance from Ontario Works (OW) under “special circumstances.” You might have to show the OW worker that your parents will not let you live at home, or that it is harmful for you to live there. The OW worker must be sure that your parents cannot or will not support you financially.

    You can ask your OW worker to not contact your parents if there are safety reasons, for example, if your parents have abused you or threatened you with harm. You may also need to provide confirmation of your circumstances, such as a letter from a guidance counselor.

    OW will need to know who you are living with and whether they are financially supporting you. This may affect your eligibility and how much your receive. You may also have to participate in family counseling (exception: if your parents have abused you).

    There is no requirement for you to be in school to receive OW.

    If you have a child, you can receive OW at any age. You may be required to participate in a program approved by OW to develop your parenting skills.


    What does OW pay for?

    OW payments are for shelter, food, clothing and other basic needs. When you move into a new place, OW can also help you cover extra items, such as last month’s rent, furniture and moving costs. If you live in a hostel or youth shelter, you can apply for a personal needs allowance only.


    How do I apply for OW?

    COVID-19 update: the Applications and Support Centre will be accessible by phone only: 416-338-8888 or 1-888-465-4478 (toll free). Only in exceptional circumstances will clients be seen in-person. More information below in our section on Social Assistance.

    To apply, contact your local Ontario Works office; it is best to call first. You can find your local office in the blue pages of the phone book under “Ontario Works” or “Social Assistance” or at

    If you have it, bring identification documents and proof that you are enrolled in school or a training program.

    OW will not pay money directly to you, they require it to be paid to an adult called a “trustee”. If you do not know someone who can act as your “trustee”, OW will help set this up for you.


    Do I have a Right to apply for OW?

    Yes, everyone has the right to apply for OW, even if you are told that you may not be eligible. If you are turned down, you should ask for the decision in writing so you can ask for a review of the decision by someone else in the OW office. If they turn you down again you can appeal the decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal.

    Your request for a review or an appeal must be in writing. There are short deadlines for reviews and appeals so make sure you act on it as soon as possible. For more information on Social Assistance, visit: CLEO’s legal rights website or Steps to Justice.

    For advice or help with a review and/or an appeal, contact your local community legal clinic or Justice for Children and Youth.