CAS needs more funds, not regulation

Posted on April 11, 2016 in Child & Family Delivery System – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Children’s aid societies launch major training reforms, April 3
Apr 11 2016.   Aubrey Gonsalves, Nancy Simone and Heather Murry / James C. Kennedy / Charlene Burden / Genevieve Webster

If regulation by a college were even remotely likely to make children safer and protect families better, then Ontario CAS workers would be all for it. But it won’t.

A professional college holds individuals to account and such oversight is essential for social workers in private practice. But for already overburdened child protection workers in children’s aid societies, college regulation will be just another layer of bureaucracy, expense and administration that won’t help them or their employers address the real obstacles that hinder their performance of this vital work: stagnant budgets and even funding cuts at children’s aid societies since 2010; crushing workloads; a faulty computer system that is being rolled out despite serious flaws.

As stated in the article, CAS workers already answer to more than enough people and processes: our employers’ internal policies and complaints procedures; the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth; ministry audits; child and family services review boards; family courts; Ontario’s human rights tribunal; the provincial auditor general; and even coroner’s inquests.

Requiring CAS workers to register with a professional college simply allows government and agencies to pass the buck for failures in child protection services. By shifting the responsibility to individual workers, they ignore the systemic issues that are hurting children and families and put off real reforms to a vital public service that is starved for funding, resources and leadership.

Aubrey Gonsalves, Nancy Simone and Heather Murry, Social Services Committee (CAS), CUPE Ontario

This article contained some extremely good ideas. However, a more basic and long-lasting change could be brought about by insisting that the leadership of the governing bodies of the 47 different CAS organizations be elected by popular vote in each CAS district.

If every adult in every district were allowed such a vote, there certainly would be some very significant changes in CAS behaviour. Who understands the problems caused by the present CAS system better than the people upon whom they are being inflicted?

James C. Kennedy, Kingston


As a student in Child and Youth Care and a full-time social worker I think this decision to have province-wide standards for CAS protection workers is a necessary change. The responsibility that CAS protection workers have to take care of these children is huge, and ensuring the professionals are equipped to handle the position will help ensure children and youths lives are taken seriously.

However, I think it is also very important that we discuss other issues that this reform does not address. Workers in this profession are over worked, often having too many caseloads to handle. This is the reason children are falling through the cracks. The new training and province-wide standard won’t stand up if the ministry continues to cut their budgets. CAS needs more staff and care for their workers for them to be able to operate efficiently.

CAS would greatly benefit hiring more Child and Youth Care practitioners in child protection roles. This field of practice focuses on the development and needs of children and youth, and thus, fully equips CYC workers with unique abilities to address child protection issues at both the practice and policy levels.

Charlene Burden, Toronto

Fourteen years is an awfully long time to wait for this response from the Children’s Aid Society.

Had Jeffery Baldwin’s life been saved, he would be an adult by now, and would not have benefitted from this “major reform” in CAS.

This impending reform of training for CAS is long overdue. From my first-hand experience with CAS I’ve found them to be woefully incompetent. They are poorly trained, generally biased, and often take inaccurate notes.

On the matter of note taking, I have encountered CAS workers whose poor English has led to serious consequences especially in trail cases. Complaints of physical abuse that were reported by me were investigated on a conference call with the alleged abuser’s lawyer. Obviously the lawyer was more equipped at intimidation.

According to people I’ve spoken to, CAS workers often focus on petty issues – such a dishes in the sink – and not on the big glaring issues of a serious nature like bruises on a child because they are often out of their depths and don’t know how to deal with it. In my case their concern was less about the child and more about their bureaucracy.

I have actually had a meeting with a CAS supervisor in which I was told we were not there to talk about the child involved. I had a subsequent meeting with the supervisor, director and their lawyers regarding signs of ongoing physical mistreatment of the child involved. CAS promised they would look into the matter yet never did.

This training would be welcome. Why would the union be stubbornly opposed to this when everyone would benefit including the CAS workers but more importantly the children they are supposed to protect.

Genevieve Webster, Toronto

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One Response to “CAS needs more funds, not regulation”

  1. Francis says:

    March 2, 2001

    Here is the advertisement which was refused by the paper:

    Tame Children’s Aid!

    Children and families need protection from the Dufferin Children’s Aid Society.

    In the name of child-protection, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has embarked on a rampage of family destruction including:

    Removal of children from their parents without warning. CAS seizes children from two-parent homes, schools, even from mothers sheltered in Family Transition Place.
    Assignment of children to foster-care for imagined or trifling abuses.
    Failure to respect the religion of children in their custody, in defiance of the laws of Ontario. A Catholic child in their custody cannot be baptized.
    Suggesting divorce to improve prospects of regaining child custody. More commonly, CAS orders family members not to associate with each other.
    Failure to follow agreements with parents. No court will hold them accountable for breach of promise to parents.
    Misrepresentation in court by omitting material favorable to families, combined with wide-ranging mud-slinging on matters unrelated to child-care.
    Avoiding the investigation of true child-abuse cases by turning against the accusers.
    CAS prevents rehabilitation by using any past infraction, no matter how slight, as grounds for family intervention. Past criminal or CAS cases lead to unrelenting intervention under the doctrine that past abusers are likely future abusers. A computer system makes CAS allegations available to social workers across Canada.

    The number of Dufferin CAS cases, 1353 last year, far exceeds the level of child-abuse. Yearly Dufferin CAS expenditures are $88 per capita, 48% above the Ontario average. Court records are secret, so the facts here come from CAS targets, sometimes corroborated in other jurisdictions.

    The ultimate CAS weapon is crown-wardship, meaning parents never see their child again. A study by CPS Watch in the USA shows that use of this weapon is based on adoptability, not child-abuse. Parents are defenseless because legal-aid funds for families run out in a few months, while legal budgets for CAS are unbounded.

    In all of these actions, the ultimate victims are the children, who are deprived of their parents temporarily, and sometimes permanently.

    What we can do

    CAS achieves its mayhem with its legal power to remove children, a weapon that ought to be used with restraint. Imagine if at every traffic stop the policeman drew his gun.

    Dufferin VOCA believes that the best interest of the child is in keeping his parents. We think Children’s Aid should give parents a chance to respond to charges before removing children, abide by its agreements with parents, keep children out of foster-care except in once-a-year cases and never suggest divorce. Serious child-abuse most often comes from non-parents, such as foster parents or casual acquaintances of separated parents. Children should never go from two natural parents to foster care.

    Children’s Aid enjoys immunity from all legal actions, so their abuses cannot be corrected through the courts. Children’s Aid members elect the directors, who in turn appoint the management. Any person over age 18 with a residence or business in Dufferin can be a member for three dollars a year. We urge you to help Dufferin VOCA by joining Children’s Aid and voting for our candidates at the annual membership meeting. Please call one of us for applications and additional information.

    Dufferin VOCA


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