In Ontario, child protection law is governed by the Child, Youth and Family Service Act, 2017 (CFSA). 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/.
If a child is apprehended by the Society, it must as soon as practicable, but in any event no more than five days after:
- Return the child to the person who has custody of the child, or who last had care of the child; or
- Have the child remain in the care of the Society under a temporary care agreement; or
- Bring the matter to court to obtain an interim order for the Society to maintain care of the child.
Section 37(1) of the CFSA 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 as well as 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 care of the Society
- Making the child a ward of the Crown
- Placing a child or children in the care of another person 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
- Giving custody of the child to a third party with the consent of that party
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.