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Child protection

ontario specific
legal information

Sometimes, child protection authorities become involved with families where there is violence.

Depending on where you live, the agency may be called the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), Child and Family Services or perhaps something else.

There are some specialized agencies that work with Indigenous families. Toronto has several child protection agencies, including Jewish Family & Child and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.

If a child protection authority is involved with your family, the more you understand about how it works, the better. As you will see below, this agency has a lot of power

In Ontario, the Child and Youth Family Services Act gives child protection agencies their power and authority.

Agencies are responsible for receiving and investigating reports of possible child abuse and neglect, providing services to families that need assistance in the protection and care of their children, arranging for children to live with kin or with foster families when they are not safe at home and arranging for family reunification when that is appropriate.

tricycleLegal duty to report

The legislation requires anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be “in need of protection” to report those concerns to a child welfare agency.

A child in need of protection is defined as a child who is or who appears to be suffering from neglect and/or physical, sexual and/or emotional harm.

Exposure to violence against the mother

“In need of protection” can include children who have been exposed to violence directed at their mother by her partner.

Exposure includes:

  • Direct witnessing of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional)
  • Overhearing the abuse
  • Seeing the aftermath of the abuse (physical injuries, emotional impact on the mother)
  • Living in a threatening environment for a long period of time
  • Being subjected to abuse themselves that is part of the abuser’s pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour directed at the mother