Children's Aid Societies and Child Protection
Children's aid societies (CASs) work to promote the best interests, safety and well-being of children. This sometimes involves assessing reports of alleged abuse or neglect. In these matters, CASs collect and use information they believe is needed, based on the circumstances of each case.
CASs are guided in their work and their decision-making by a range of professional standards and tools:
- The Child Protection Standards in Ontario
- The Child Protection Tools Manual
- The Eligibility Spectrum
CASs and courts examine a variety of evidence when making decisions about removal of children from their parents' care, and are guided by criteria to make decisions in the best interests of children. In addition to examining evidence, courts must also be satisfied that the removal of the child from their parents is truly in the best interests of the child.
Criteria for making this determination are assessed with a view to choosing the least disruptive course of action available to protect the child. The specific criteria set out in the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) includes factors such as the child's relationships, any proposed plan of care for the child, the risk of future harm, the child's cultural background and any views or preferences that the child may express.
A range of evidence may be presented in child protection proceedings. Prior to the issuance of this Policy Directive to CASs on April 22, 2015, this may have included hair strand drug and alcohol test results where there was a child protection concern related to substance abuse.
CASs conduct assessments when they are working with a child or family. These assessments determine the level of intervention needed to keep the child safe. A CAS may explore alternate placement options if a child cannot remain safely in his or her home. The goal is, where possible, to support children to remain in their homes. If that is not possible, CASs work to place children and youth in permanent homes. The options to achieve this include legal custody orders, formal customary care agreements (for First Nations children and youth) as well as adoption. CASs also work with families and provide supports to prevent children from coming into care.