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What is the Children’s Aid Society (CAS)?
The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CAS) is a community organization legally mandated to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.
We are one of 53 agencies in Ontario that keep children safe, provide support and other services to parents; and when necessary provide safe and nurturing care for children and youth who are unable to live at home because of family problems.
We provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Outside of regular business hours, a team of protection workers are available to respond to situations where children may be at risk.
In most situations we are able to protect children while they continue to live in their own homes. We work in collaboration with families and other members of the community to ensure children and youth remain safe. Sometimes the risk of harm is such that the child or youth cannot be protected at home and temporary care is provided either in a foster or group living situation.
Once a child is in the care of the agency, every effort is made to help the child remain connected to his or her family whenever possible. During the child or youth's stay in care we provide the best possible opportunities for growth and development.
We strive to provide services that respect diversity of race, religion, spirituality, gender, ability, language, and culture.
What is foster care?
Foster care is when people, who have been approved by the CAS as foster parents, provide a home for children or youth who need care for a period of a few days, weeks, months or possibly year.
Who are foster parents?
Foster parents are people from any ethnic, cultural, racial or religious background who believe that every child deserves love and respect. Foster parents are individuals who are over the age of 18 and demonstrate an ability to parent. They have a stable and caring lifestyle and space in their home to support a child or youth’s needs.
For what reasons is foster care needed?
- Family violence
- Parental difficulties
What kind of support do foster parents receive?
- Reimbursement for the child’s or youth’s living expenses
- Training (free courses and workshops)
- 24 hours on call telephone support and more
What steps do I need to take to become a foster parent?
- Call (613) 742-1620 or visit our website at http://www.winningkids.ca/
- Attend an information night.
- Complete an application form
What is adoption?
Adoption is the permanent placement of child or youth into your home, allowing them to legally become a member of your family. Most children or youth who are available for adoption have been removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.
Who can adopt?
- People who are willing to make a lifelong commitment to children and youth
- People from all cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds
- People who are couples, single, divorced, widowed, gay or lesbian, and who are at least 19 years of age
- People who can financially manage the addition of a child or youth to their family
- People who have no criminal history that will prevent them from being approved to adopt
Who are the children and youth?
- Waiting children and youth are from ages 0-16 years
- CAS always has an urgent need for families interested in adopting children and youth aged 5 years or older; sibling groups; and those who have developmental delays.
What is the adoption process?
- Visit the CAS website www.winningkids.ca or call (613) 742-1620 .
- Attend an Information Session to learn more about all that is involved in adopting a child or youth who is waiting for a home.
- Attend the Society’s required training program which is about a 20 hour program focusing on the issue of adoption and foster care.
- Complete an application package and return to Ottawa CAS/Adoption Services.
Become a volunteer
Who can be a volunteer?
Our volunteers are citizens from our community who choose to donate their time, energy and skills. They are men and women over the age of 18, ranging from students, working people and retirees, from diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. All share a caring concern for children and youth.
What are the roles of a volunteer?
You can contribute to a wide range of services. Some examples of volunteer roles are:
- Tutor for children and youth in care
- Mentor for children and youth in care
- Participants in children’s groups
- Participants in programs that benefit both children and their parents
- Drivers that help ensure children and youth arrive safely and on time for their appointments
- Clerical or administrative assistants
- Committee members
What kind of skills and time commitment does volunteering require?
No specialized skills are required; however, we make every effort to match your interests, availability and skills with the best possible volunteering opportunity. Volunteer opportunities are available on a regular or occasional basis. The CAS can work out a flexible schedule to accommodate your availability and respect any other commitments that you may have.
How do I become a volunteer?
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and would like to attend the next volunteer orientation session, please contact the CAS at:
Children’s Aid Society Of Ottawa
1602 Telesat Court
Gloucester, ON, K1B 1B1
Tel: (613) 747-7800 ext 2805
When to Report Abuse
Each of us has a responsibility for the welfare of children. We all share a responsibility to protect children and youth from harm—a responsibility that extends to those situations where children and youth suffer abuse and neglect in their own homes. Ontario’s Child and Family Services Aid (CFSA) provides protection for these children.
Who is a “child or youth in need of protection”?
A child in need of protection is a child or youth who is or who appears to be suffering from abuse and/or neglect.
Who is responsible for reporting a child or youth in need of protection?
Anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child or youth is or may be in need of protection must promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).
What are “reasonable grounds” to suspect child abuse or neglect?
It is not necessary for you to be certain a child or youth is or may be in need of protection to make a report to the CAS. “Reasonable grounds” refers to the information that an average person, exercising normal and honest judgment, would need in order to make a decision to report.
What is the age of the children to whom the “duty to report” applies?
The duty to report applies to any child who is, or appears to be, under the age of 16 years. It also applies to children subject to the child protection order who are 16 and 17 years old.
Can I rely on someone else to report?
No. You have to report directly to the CAS. You must not rely on anyone else to report on your behalf.
What Happens When I call The CAS?
The CAS will look into the information you provide and determine if it needs to be investigated. The CAS workers have the responsibility and the authority to investigate allegations and to protect children. The workers may, as part of the investigation and plan to protect a child, involve the police and other community agencies.
What is Confidential?
All client information is confidential. The CAS can only disclose confidential information with your written consent. If there is information necessary to plan for your child’s safety we may obtain a court order to obtain the information. Confidential information is presented to a Family Court Judge in situations that are before the court.
What is kept on record?
The provincial government requires the CAS to keep records of our involvement with children and families. The records include all information related to decisions made and services that are provided to children and families. The records are kept confidential and are only released with your permission unless the record is required in a court proceeding.
Are the police ever involved in child protection matters?
All serious cases of physical or sexual abuse and neglect cases are referred to the police. The police may lay charges if, based on the facts a criminal offence has occurred.
Will my child be interviewed?
When a concern about the safety of a child or youth is brought to the attention of the CAS an interview will occur. In most situations interviews occur with the consent of the parent. In very serious matters the CAS may interview without the parents consent or knowledge.
When does the Medical Profession become involved?
When child abuse or serious neglect causing harm to a child or youth has occurred or is suspected, a medical examination may be necessary. In these situations every effort is made to obtain parental consent to the examination. Occasionally, when a parent is not available to consent the CAS under the auspices of the Child and Family Services Act will temporarily assume care and custody to proceed with a medical examination. Every effort will be made to continue to locate and involve the parents.
If your child or youth is in the care of the Society
Sometimes children and youth are unable to remain in their family home. When a child or youth comes into the care of the Society it is either on a voluntary basis with parental consent or through a court order.
Every effort is made to place a child in a home sensitive to the racial, ethnic, cultural and religious background of the child. Whenever possible it is the practice of the agency to place children and youth with extended family. When this is not possible the preferred option is with foster parents. Placing siblings together is a priority for the Society.
A child welfare worker will work with you in developing a plan of care for your child.
Unless a family court Judge restricts access, regular visits are scheduled between the parents and the child or youth in care.
Our main goal is to work toward reuniting children with their families. A plan of service is developed with the parents towards this goal. If, however a situation is deemed too serious and a child cannot be safe at home, a permanent plan is developed and presented before a Family Court Judge.
When does the CAS become involved?
The CAS has a legal mandate to intervene, where necessary to protect children from abuse and neglect. We accept reports of children and youth in need of protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (613) 747-7800.
We become involved with a family when a concern about a child or youth under the age of 16 has been brought to our attention. These concerns can be about a child who has been harmed or about the possibility a child might be at risk of harm and early intervention services are necessary to protect the child.
When a call is received a protection worker and supervisor will assess the risk to a child based on the information and how urgent our response must be. An investigation into the concerns will help decide how to best protect the child and provide supportive services to the family.
If the report suggests the risk of harm is immediate or there is an injury, CAS protection workers will respond within 12 hours. In all other situations a worker will visit the home within (7) days.
Once involved we work in collaboration with the family and community service partners to assist in resolving any concerns or problems the family is experiencing. We provide on-going services in most cases on a voluntary basis. In serious situations services may be provided with a court order.
A parent or a child may contact us directly. A relative, friend, teacher, nurse, doctor or other professional must make a referral when they are concerned for the safety and well-being of a child or youth.
What is child abuse and neglect?
Child abuse is when a child has been intentionally hurt, or when a parent or caregiver fails to protect a child in their care and the child is or can be hurt as a result.
Physical abuse is any action that results or could result in an injury to a child or youth. It can include slapping, punching, beating, shaking, burning, biting or throwing a child. Physical abuse can be one or two isolated incidents or occur over a prolonged period of time.
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used for the sexual gratification of an adult or an older child. It is against the law to touch a child for sexual purpose; encourage or force a child to touch another person in a sexual way; encourage or force a child to participate in any sexual activity; tell a child to touch him or herself for an adult’s or older child’s sexual purposes. Sexual abuse of children can take many forms. This includes sexual intercourse, exposing a child’s private areas, fondling for sexual purposes, allowing a child to look at, or perform in pornographic pictures of videos, or engage in prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.
Emotional abuse is a pattern of behaviour that undermines a child’s emotional development and sense of self worth. It includes excessive, aggressive or unreasonable demands that place expectations on a child beyond his or her capacity. Emotional abuse includes constantly criticizing, teasing, belittling, insulting, rejecting, ignoring, or isolating the child. It also includes failure by a parent or caregiver to provide their children with love, emotional support and guidance.
Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, sleep, medical attention, education, and/or protection from harm. This can occur when parents do not know about appropriate care for children, when they cannot adequately supervise their children or when they are unable to plan ahead. Young children should never be left unattended. This includes leaving a child alone in a car even if you lock the doors and are gone for only a few minutes.
The law presently allows parents to use “reasonable force” to discipline children. What is reasonable depends on the situation, but many forms of physical punishment that were used in the past are unacceptable today, such as tying or locking children up.
Any form of physical discipline that requires medical attention, or results in bruising, welts or broken skin, is not considered reasonable discipline. Using belts, electrical cords or other objects to discipline a child can cause serious harm. Good disciplinary practices include: position reinforcement; praise; modelling; structure and routine; setting and maintaining limits; realistic expectations and following through; verbal and non-verbal cues; time outs; logical consequences; problem solving.