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Child protection

ontario specific
legal information

The Child and Youth Family Services Act (CYFSA) is the Ontario law dealing with child protection. Its purpose is to promote the best interests, protection and well-being of children.

The CYFSA authorizes child protection authorities to:

  • Investigate allegations or evidence that a child may be in need of protection
  • Protect, care for and supervise such children
  • Provide services to families.

A child is in need of protection if:

  • The child has suffered physical, sexual or emotional harm, through actions or neglect.
  • There is the risk of any such harm.

A child being exposed to their mother being abused is one risk factor, among others, in determining whether a child may be in need of protection.

Child protection authorities are required to intervene with a family in as minimally intrusive a manner as possible, bearing in mind the best interests of the children.

Removing a child from their parent(s) is a last resort that would only occur if no other strategy was available.

Anyone who has “reasonable grounds to suspect a child may be in need of protection” is required to report this to the appropriate child protection agency.

Where a woman is taking or has taken steps to protect the children from future exposure to woman abuse, reporting to child protection authorities may not be required. This could include a woman who:

  • Has come to a shelter with her children to live
  • Is taking steps to find housing
  • Has reported the abuse to the police
  • Has hired a family law lawyer

Anyone involved in a child protection court proceeding should have a lawyer. Legal aid is available in child protection cases to those who qualify financially. Duty counsel is available to assist women who do not have a lawyer.

For more information, see the child protection section.