Children's Aid Society (Canada)
|Type||Provincial Children Protection services|
|Legal status||Non-governmental organization|
|Purpose||Child and family services|
|Official language||English, French|
The Children's Aid Societies (CAS) of Ontario, Canada, are independent organizations empowered by the Ontario government to perform child protection services. The declared goal is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children".
Their principal goals are to:
- investigate reports or evidence of abuse or neglect of children under the age of 16 or in the society's care or supervision and, where necessary, take steps to protect the children
- care for and supervise children who come under their care or supervision
- counsel and support families for the protection of children or to prevent circumstances requiring the protection of children
- place children for adoption
The societies receive funding from, and are under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. However, they are regarded as a Non-governmental organization (NGO), which allows the CAS a large degree of autonomy from interference or direction in the day-to-day running of CAS by the Ministry. The Child and Family Services Review Board exists to investigate complaints against CAS and maintains authority to act against the societies.
Children's Aid Societies have authority under provincial legislation to remove children from homes where they face either a risk of harm, or have experienced harm. Children who cannot remain with caregivers are sometimes placed with other family members ("kin"), family friends ("kith"), or in customary care, which is an option for aboriginal children. In other cases, children can be placed into foster homes or group homes, as well as being adopted.
Between 2007 and 2008, there were 77,089 allegations of child abuse in Ontario. 27, 816 Children were detained in custody by Children's Aid Society. 9,468 remained in custody after a court investigation. Of these, 2,903 had been returned to custody due to previous protection concerns, so there is some statistical overlap. Conversely, 273 of these children died while still in CAS custody during this time, which accounts for a loss of roughly 3.5% of the total children in CAS custody. This mortality rate (28:1000) is about five times higher than the national child mortality rate average of Canada (5:1000) which already hosts the second highest infant mortality rate in the world not including the previously suppressed CAS mortality figures.
On their website, the Children's Aid Society makes the claim that most of the children who they visit remain in their homes, but statistics compiled by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies do not support this as fact.
Advocacy Group Membership
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies(OACAS) is a membership organization representing CASs in Ontario. Influencing public opinion by promoting child welfare issues is a critical goal.
Failures to Provide for the Needs of Children
The Office of the Coroner has published a report calling into question the efficacy of Children's Aid Societies in caring for children. The report states that in families receiving services from the CAS, children are more likely to succumb to accidental death, suicide, or neglect. Children in CAS care are also more likely to die as a result of a medical condition, when they are not allowed to remain in their parents' homes. Children's Aid Societies have been found guilty of incompetence, negligence and malicious prosecution. In 2010 a Psychologist employed by Durham CAS was found guilty for misrepresenting his qualifications.
In the province of Ontario, the majority of front-line CAS workers are not registered social workers. Several groups, including Canadacourtwatch.org posting Case Law and Canada Court Watch.com's public protest efforts have brought these issues to light, citing concerns with respect to accountability.
Controversy in Mainstream Media
Powerful As God, a 2011 film focusing on the first hand experiences of 26 individuals who witnessed the social devastation caused by Ontario CAS in recent years. This documentary reveals a hidden world of corruption, power hunger and incompetence that has been hidden from the scrutiny of the public eye for many decades. This award winning film was produced and published by the Documentary Media (MFA) Program, Ryerson University and can be viewed online.
We Were Children, is the true story of two of the 150,000 First Nation children that were forcibly separated from their family and kin and then culturally oppressed at government funded Christian faith camps. These camps were created with the express purpose 'To kill the Indian in the child.' and were operated almost exclusively by the CAS. The children suffered severe brutality, physical hardship, mental torture and ultimately a complete loss of cultural heritage. This documentary published by the National Film Board of Canada is viewable online via services such as Netflix.
- "Child and Family Services Act". Government of Ontario. October 25, 2010.
- "About Ontario's children's aid societies". Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- "Complaints Against a Children's Aid Society". Child and Family Services Review Board. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- "Report on Child Death in the general population and CAS care".
- "Early infant mortality in Canada called 2nd worst in developed world".
- "Infant Mortality".
- "Report on children in care across Ontario".
- "Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies(OACAS)".
- "Report on Child Death in the general population and CAS care".
- "Priest fights C.A.S. over abuse of power that put him through hell". Ottawa Citizen.
- "Psychologist got degree from U.S. ‘diploma mill’". National Post.
- "Search". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 10 September 2012.
- Chief Coroner. "Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five Committee". Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.
- "IMDB: Powerful as God: The Children's Aid Societies of Ontario". Ryerson University.
- "Movie: Powerful as God: The Children's Aid Societies of Ontario". Ryerson University.
- "IMDB: We Were Children". National Film Board of Canada.
- "Netflix: We Were Children". National Film Board of Canada.
- Child and Family Services Act
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- StopCas.ca - Advocacy to disband the CAS and replace with an Ontario Government Dept. of Child Protection.
- Foster Care Survivors Web Site - The Foster Care Council of Canada
- CanadaCourtWatch.ORG - Enhanced Watchdog for Ontario CAS abuse with Canadian Case Law searches published.
- Canada Court Watch.com - Court watchdog focusing on CAS related issues.