Children’s Aid Society (CAS) ensures a child’s protection from harmful events that can take place in the family. In this regard, the CAS may question the parents about their parenting abilities which can be uncomfortable.
Therefore, having the CAS can be daunting for a family. But, worry not! There is still some hope and ways to ensure your family’s survival even when the situation is crucial.
What is Children’s Aid Society (CAS)?
Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is a part of the province’s Child, Youth, and Family Services Act. Its purpose is to investigate complaints about the safety and well-being of children under 18.
What Do They Do?
The organization’s employees investigate child injury reports through interactions with parents, doctors, teachers, and other community members. They aim to provide child protection services.
In Ontario, Children’s Aid Societies work for the protection and safety of children. According to the statistics, the department got over 145,000 calls and referrals reporting children in danger during the 2018-19 fiscal year, with over 79,000 necessitating investigations.
Involvement of CAS
Concerned individuals, especially children, often contact Child Advocacy Services to report some unpleasant experience or upcoming risk. It could be for their loved one’s safety and well-being or their safety. There are many reasons behind such an occurrence.
Here are some possible causes for someone who may feel the urge to contact CAS immediately.
- Abusive behaviour of family members
- Parental neglect
- Drug or alcohol addiction of caregiver
- Poverty or financial crisis
- Inability to provide good childcare
These are some of the reasons why someone may consider contacting CAS. A troublesome occurrence in a family’s life triggers CAS’s involvement regarding child help once the wheels start rolling.
However, parents often have no control over the underlying cause, such as job loss or homelessness, mental health challenges, or financial difficulties.
In most cases, professionals make referrals with direct observational experience with the children. It could be teachers, dentists, physicians, or a concerned family member or friend. Parents in separation or divorce may exploit the child welfare system to obtain court favour, especially if they have children.
When a parent considers the welfare of their children, they are more likely to report them when they desire to gain a legal advantage over the other parent.
What Comes Next?
As soon as the CAS reaches your door, you and your family members will face an inquiry. Nonetheless, what led to the CAS inquiry, can be a terrifying and draining experience for all. The entire family will be a part of the investigation.
Having an experienced child protection lawyer on your side can make the process of fighting for the rights of a child in investigating your care a lot easier.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are numerous reasons why parents should not represent themselves in court. One of the most common is that they have no idea how difficult it might be to prove their parental capacity in court.
There is a lot of confusion in this complex area of the law, with CAS and court requests that are reasonable and extravagant, some of which are legitimate once the wheels start rolling and others unreasonable.
Worst Case Scenario
Even with expert legal assistance, cases can drag on for years. Hence, the parent-child bond will inevitably deteriorate. The stress of foster care will increase when self-represented parents get limited visitation to their children a few times a week.
Triggers for a CAS investigation
Children are at risk of harm due to parental neglect, abuse, or caregiver addiction. My experience in child welfare tells me that CAS frequently contacts families after an upsetting occurrence. Loss of employment, housing, or financial hardship are frequent factors.
Worried relatives or friends frequently refer to teachers, dentists, and doctors. For example, in divorced or separated families, one parent may manipulate the child welfare system. In certain cases, the reported parent is just seeking a legal advantage by slandering the other parent.
Whatever the basis for the CAS inquiry, it may be stressful for the whole family. Having an experienced child protection lawyer on your side may ease the process and preserve your rights.
Many parents want to represent themselves but are ignorant of the complex legislation, the Society’s intervention, court delays and expectations, or the documentation required to show parental viability and parental capacity. Many parents are perplexed by the legal intricacies and constant CAS and court requests, some reasonable and others not.
These situations might last years. Self-represented parents watch as the parent-child bond withers and the agony of foster care deepens with limited unsupervised visits.
Legal Aid Canada can assist low-income families. If you don’t, hire a lawyer who can help you keep your kids near.
Read More: Legal Separation Agreement in Canada
What to Expect? (If CAS Calls)
When CAS receives a report about a child investigating you are in danger, it assigns a child protection specialist to conduct an investigation.
In addition to questioning caregivers, the specialist may speak with children, teachers, extended family members, and anyone else who can provide helpful information to the investigation.
If the CAS gets a report from your son’s teacher about his inconsistent attendance, an investigator will call you for an explanation. While there may be legitimate reasons for absenteeism, parents or guardians must address the agency’s concerns once the wheels start rolling. If they cannot do so, CAS will continue investigating the root problem.
Depending on the gravity of the allegations, the aid society may ask the court to remove the children from their families. They may decide to remove children from an unsafe environment if domestic violence or drug/alcohol misuse occurs.
According to the National Post, more than half of children in foster care are there due to a domestic violence call. An expert lawyer can help you communicate with the CAS in either case. The attorney will defend your family’s integrity and advocate for you in court to ensure the judge hears your side of the story.
False allegations should also worry parents and guardians. The victim of false accusations may find proving their case a time-consuming procedure.
If the children are too young to substantiate or reject the charges, it relies upon the accused parent to prove the blame was false. Your legal rights –– what you don’t know could cost you.
If you believe your family has been wrongly or improperly investigated, suing the Children’s Aid Society is possible and even legal.
Recommendations of CAS
CAS would usually recommend programming for one or both parents to address the underlying issues in these circumstances. Families may connect with the CAS freely.
Nevertheless, even if there is an agreement to accept the CAS’s recommended services or programs, it is critical to recognize that can sometimes go against you.
When parents are under stress, it may be easier for them to open up to a child protection worker who appears to have their best interests at heart. However, this is not always in the best interests of you or your children.
You might even resort to wishing how to stop the Children’s Aid, but the best would be to let them investigate without barring them. Hindering them in any way during the investigation will make them think you are hiding something from them.
Before dealing with a CAS worker, consult with a lawyer who has handled similar cases in the past. The outcomes can be devastating if you go into the procedure blindly. When the stakes are this high, you need the help of a legal representative to protect your rights.
Parents and caregivers should avoid the following errors when working with CAS workers:
- Be careful what you say to the CAS worker. Whatever you say in an interview might be used against you in court.
- Avoid arguing, using impolite words, and being in any manner obstructive.
- Be cooperative and receptive to the worker’s suggestions, all within the bounds of the law.
- Always take a lawyer. A legal advocate works with CAS to develop a programming plan that satisfies both sides’ requirements.
Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is there to protect your child, and it is their priority. They are here to save or prevent the children from further harm.
Cases involving children are sensitive as they can heavily affect your children, so in such cases, hiring an experienced lawyer is the best option as anything you say can be used against you. Be cooperative, and don’t hide anything from the employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Authority Does CAS Have?
If CAS sees that your child is unsafe in your house, they have the legal power to take the child away. CAS workers are legally obliged to do so and investigate the case.
What Happens During a CAS Investigation?
During a CAS investigation, they will collect as much information as possible regarding a case to calculate what steps they should take next unless the child is in immediate harm.
What Legal Powers Do Social Services Have?
Social services have specific legal powers which they are obliged to follow. The powers depend on the kind of social service and whom they are helping.
Do I Have to Let Cas In My Home?
If they have a warrant, then you are obliged to do it. Even if CAS doesn't, it's best to let them in because it will save you from future trouble.
Can You Refuse CAS?
The easy answer is, you can (only if they don't have a police warrant), but that will lead to more problems, so it's best to let them in.