Toronto Child Protection Lawyer
Child protection proceedings are commenced by child protection agencies, where there are concerns that a child (under the age of eighteen) is being harmed physically or emotionally or is at risk of physical or emotional harm. Child protection agencies are usually called Children’s Aid Societies (also known as “CAS”). In Toronto the following agencies provide child protection services:
- Children’s Aid Society of Toronto
- The Catholic Children’s Aid Society (serves the Catholic Community)
- Native and Family Services Toronto (serves the indigenous community)
- Jewish Family and Child (serves the Jewish community)
In Ontario, child protection law is governed by the Child, Youth and Family Service Act, 2017. Under this legislation, Children’s Aid societies may investigate allegations or evidence where children are suspected to be in need of protection. Children are deemed to be in need of protection where:
- The child is being or is at risk of being physically, emotionally or sexually abused
- The child’s basic needs are not being met (food, clothing, shelter etc.)
- The child is being exposed to dangerous situations
- The child is exposed to adult conflict or to domestic violence
When does Children’s Aid Society become involved with families?
A Children’s Aid Society is often contacted by service providers, such as, teachers, doctors, nurses, and day-care workers, where they suspect that a child is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed. The police may also make a report to the Children’s Aid Society after one or both parents are charged with a criminal offence. In some situations, it is the child’s parent themselves that contacts the Children’s Aid Society. The Children’s Aid Society has a legal obligation to look into every report, where it appears that a child is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed.
After child protections concerns are reported, a Children’s Aid Society will open an investigation to determine if the child is in need of protection. This will often involve a child protection worker meeting with and interviewing the child and parents/caregivers. A Children’s Aid Society may also contact third parties, such as the child’s teachers or doctors. Depending on what the Children’s Aid Society determines after their initial investigation they may:
- Close the file
- Keep the file open, while offering support services
- Bring a protection application in Court
- Bring a protection application in Court and apprehend (remove) the child
- Ask the parent to sign an agreement
Child protection cases can be very complicated. If a Children’s Aid Society has commenced a protection proceeding involving your children, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible from a lawyer. Please contact one of our Toronto Family Lawyers dealing with child protection, child welfare, and children’s aid issues. Our Toronto Family law firm accepts Legal Aid Ontario Certificates.