What are child protection services?
Child protection services in Ontario are predominantly provided by Children’s Aid Societies (CAS), organizations mandated to safeguard children and youth from instances of abuse, neglect, or any form of harm. Their scope of work includes prevention, intervention, and ongoing support for children at risk. This entails monitoring the child’s environment, ensuring their physical, emotional, and social well-being, and taking necessary action, which could range from counseling and family support to arranging foster care or adoption when needed. These services play a critical role in fostering a safe and nurturing environment for children and youth across Ontario.
In Ontario, child protection law is governed by the Child, Youth and Family Service Act, 2017 (CYFSA). Child protection proceedings are commenced by child protection agencies whenever there are real or perceived concerns that a child is at risk or harm, or is being harmed emotionally, physically, or sexually.
These child protection agencies are usually called Children’s Aid Society or CAS. There are many such agencies throughout Ontario. For a list of these agencies, please visit http://www.oacas.org/childrens-aid-child-protection/locate-a-childrens-aid-society/.
What is CAS in family law?
In the domain of family law in Ontario, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of children under 18. Tasked with the responsibility of investigating allegations of neglect or abuse, the CAS has the mandate to implement protective measures when necessary. The scope of their work extends beyond investigations, providing essential care and supervision for children in their charge. They also offer counseling services to support families during challenging times and facilitate adoption processes for children in need of a safe and nurturing home. Through these activities, CAS helps uphold the rights of children and aids in the creation of a secure environment conducive to their growth and development.
When CAS is Involved
If a child is taken to a place of safety by the Society, the matter must be brought to court no more than five days after. The court may choose to do any of the following:
- Return the child to the person who had care of the child; or
- Place the child with another person approved by the Society and/or court; or
- Have the child placed in the care of the Society
Section 74(1) of the CYFSA sets out the definition of a parent, which is specifically given a broad definition and is meant to be inclusive. If a person who was not initially named a party to an action would like to submit a plan of care for the child, that person can be added as a party to the proceeding. If you are not initially included as a party to the proceeding, our lawyers can help you with your court materials as well as work with you to submit a detailed and well thought out Plan of Care.
A Plan of Care is a very important document as it provides your outline to the court of the steps you will take, your plan to care for the children’s needs and helps the court to determine whether a child should be placed with you.
A court can make various different orders including but not limited to:
- Placing a child or children in the temporary care of the Society
- Placing the child in extended Society care
- Placing a child or children in the care of another person, with their consent, under the supervision of the Society
- Placing a child or children in the care of the Society for a specific time with a specific period for returning the child to the parent or another person
- Allowing parents to have access supervised by the Society
- Allowing parents to have no access whatsoever to the children
- Placing the child for adoption after the child is placed in extended Society care
For most parents and parties involved in a Children’s Aid matter, it is a very stressful and difficult time of their lives. At Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers, our lawyers have a wealth of experience dealing with these agencies throughout Ontario. We can help you navigate this very difficult and complex area of law whether you are a parent or a family member who is involved in a CAS matter. Child protection cases are usually very complicated with a myriad of involved parties. It is very important that you seek competent legal advice as soon as possible if a Children’s Aid Society has commenced protection proceedings involving your children.