What is a Children’s Aid Society?
Children’s Aid Societies help to protect infants, children and youth who are experiencing abuse or are at risk of experiencing abuse, physically, sexually, emotionally or through neglect or abandonment. Children’s Aid Societies ensure that children and families are connected to the services they need in order to remain safe and thriving. They do this by working with community service providers and in some cases provide supportive services themselves. In 97% of investigations done by CAS, the child or children remain in the home and receive supportive services. In Ontario, Children’s Aid Societies have the exclusive legal responsibility to provide child protection services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The activities and purpose of a Children’s Aid Society are set out in the Child, Youth and Family Services Act. Read more about Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies.
What is child abuse?
“Child abuse” includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse and/or neglect. It also addresses a pattern of abuse and risks of harm. Read more about types and signs of abuse here.
What should I do if I suspect a child is being harmed?
If you suspect that a child is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed, call your local Children’s Aid Society immediately. Your call will connect you with a trained professional who can access the situation and determine the best course of action.
When should I call Children’s Aid?
If you see or have reason to believe a child is in need of protection or is at risk of harm, make the call to your local Children’s Aid Society. There is someone available to receive your call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It can be hard deciding to place a call to report concerns about a child or youth. Ultimately, the biggest consideration is and should be for the safety and well-being of the child and/or family. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please call your local Children’s Aid Society.
In 2018, the age of protection was raised to include youth up to 18 years old. Youth who are 16 and 17 years old are now eligible to receive protection services from Children’s Aid Societies. While reporting for 16 and 17-year old youth is not mandatory, please contact your local Children’s Aid Society if you have concerns about a youth.
What is the “duty to report”?
Under section 125 of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act every person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection has the duty to promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a Children’s Aid Society. This includes persons who perform professional or official duties with respect to children, such as health care workers, teachers, operators or employees of child care programs or centres, police and lawyers. Read more about “duty to report” here.
Do I need to be sure that abuse/neglect is happening before I call a Children’s Aid?
It is not necessary to be certain that a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a children’s aid society. Section 125 of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act says that every person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection has the duty to promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a Children’s Aid Society. “Reasonable grounds” refers to the information that an average person, using normal and honest judgment, would need in order to decide to report. You cannot rely on someone else to make the call if you are concerned. The role of the Children’s Aid Societies is to assess calls made by the public using a professional and standardized process. The person making the report should bring forward their concerns and Children’s Aid will determine if there is a sufficient basis to warrant further assessment of the concerns about the child.
I need help. Where can I go for support?
Call your local Children’s Aid Society. Your call will connect you with a trained professional who can access your situation and help determine the best course of action to get you support.
How can I get in contact with my local Children’s Aid Society?
Click here for a searchable list of Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario.
Who has oversight of Children’s Aid Societies?
Children’s Aid Societies are monitored by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Servicess in addition to formal oversight by Ontario’s Family Courts, Child and Family Services Review Board, the Office of the Auditor General and the Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. The work of Children’s Aid Societies is also influenced by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Internal Complaints Review Panel. Additionally, each Children’s Aid Society is governed by a local Board of Directors.
I have a complaint against a Children’s Aid Society. Who should I contact?
Every Children’s Aid Society has an Internal Complaints Review Panel (ICRP) process to address the written complaints of people seeking or receiving Children’s Aid Society services. The process involves striking a panel of individuals not involved in the complainant’s case, including at least one person not employed by the agency, to review the complaint. Contact the Children’s Aid Society you were seeking or received services from to find out how to initiate the process.
Is OACAS in charge of Children’s Aid Societies?
No. OACAS is a membership organization providing services such as education and training, child welfare advocacy and public engagement to Children’s Aid Societies. Read more about what OACAS does.
Where can I find information on adopting in Ontario?
There are three ways to adopt in Ontario; a) public, b) private, or c) inter-country adoption. Public adoption involves the adoption of a child or youth currently who are Crown wards of Ontario. Children’s Aid Societies can facilitate the adoption of Crown wards in their care. Typically, there are no fees associated with public adoption. Your local Children’s Aid Society will provide you with all of the required information you will need to consider public adoption.
For private and inter-country adoptions:
Visit the Adoption Council of Ontario or the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Servicess for more information. You can also find additional information through your local Children’s Aid Society or read more here.
Where can I find information on fostering in Ontario?
Ontario’s Children Aid Societies work very hard to help families stay together and for children to stay at home. However when children cannot remain at home because of serious concerns about their safety and protection, Children’s Aid makes every effort to find a family to care for the child until the child can return home.
Foster care is a valuable option for children in care because most children’s needs are best met in a family environment. Foster parents provide a temporary home for children who are in the care of a Children’s Aid Society. Children may need foster care for just a few days, a week, several months or possibly years.