The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) becomes involved with families when there are allegations, or risks, of harm or abuse to a child. It needs to be understood that “harm” has a very broad definition and can include physical or emotional harm, lack of care, or sometimes being in the midst of a high-conflict or abusive relationship.
When CAS becomes involved with a family, both the length of their involvement and the level of intervention will vary. In some cases, CAS may close a file after a few at-home visits if they are satisfied that the child(ren) are not in harm or at risk of harm. On the other hand, there are cases in which the children may be apprehended by CAS and taken into their care.
If a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) apprehends your children, they must commence a Family Court action against the parents promptly. There are a series of pleadings that they will serve on the parent. In such a situations, it is important to retain a lawyer (or if you cannot afford a lawyer, confer with Duty Counsel at the Court listed on the pleadings) and to fully and appropriately respond to any allegations. Child protection matters can have significant consequences on a family and must be treated promptly and with special care and respect.
In Ontario, Child Protection Law is governed by the Child and Family Service Act whose primary mandate is the promotion of the children’s best interests and the protection and wellbeing of the children.
Regardless of how it may first appear, it is always serious when CAS becomes involved with a family and the concerns and process must be dealt with in a serious manner.