DEFINING CHILD WELFARE & PROTECTION
Child welfare is a set of government and private agencies that aims to protect children from unsafe home environments and encourage family stability. Child welfare agencies will investigate reported cases of abuse and neglect, supervise foster care, arrange adoptions, and offer services to support families.
Child welfare agencies across Canada have the same similarity of prioritizing the safety of children. The systems have common features such as:
- The best interests of the child must be considered
- The parent’s primary responsibility for child rearing is respected
- It is acknowledged that continuity of care and stability is important for children
- The views of children are important to take into consideration when decisions are being made that affect their futures
- Cultural heritage should be respected (especially for Indigenous children)
While agencies across Canada share similarities, there may be some small differences. To be kept informed with the most accurate and up to date information, please review your province/territories child protection legislation. In Ontario, please view The Child, Youth and Family Services Act.
Children’s Aid Societies (CAS or the Society) help to protect infants, children and youth who are experiencing abuse or are at risk of experiencing abuse, physically, sexually, emotionally or through neglect or abandonment. They also provide help to families who want some extra support and assistance. Great emphasis is placed on ensuring that children can stay with their families and be safe and thrive. Children’s Aid must sometimes remove children from unsafe conditions and take them into its care – although the vast majority of Children’s Aid work is about protecting children and supporting their families to stay together.
A Few Quick Facts
- 50 Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario.
- Most are referred to as a Children’s Aid Society, such as the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Peel CAS, York Region Children’s Aid Society.
- Some are referred to Child and Family Services such as the Dufferin Child and Family Services.
- Some agencies provide additional services including children’s mental health services and developmental services, as well as parenting and youth programs.
What the Law Says
In Ontario, Children’s Aid Societies have the exclusive legal responsibility to provide child protection services 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. CAS must:
- Investigate allegations or evidence that children who are under the age of 18 years are in need of protection
- Protect children who are under the age of 18 years
- Provide guidance, counselling and other services to families for protecting children or for the prevention of circumstances requiring the protection of children
- Provide care for children assigned to its care
- Supervise children assigned to its supervision
- Place children for adoption
- Provide protection for children who have been harmed or are at risk of harm
How MCASS fits in
At the present time, there is no legislated Children’s Aid Society for the diverse Muslim communities. Muslim children and families are under the responsibility of the Children’s Aid Society for the place in which they live (for example the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto).
We support families who are engaged with the Society. Support may include:
- serving as a liaison in discussions with CAS
- attending home visits
- providing additional resources or services to improve familial well-being
- making referrals to other Muslim or community organizations
- advocating for the family
- interacting with the criminal justice system.
If you have been contacted by CAS and would like our support, please call to discuss further with our staff.
Abuse and Neglect are key areas that child welfare services explore. So what is it? What are the signs? And what actions do we need to take? In this section, we will provide answers to these critical questions.
Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) are key to the child welfare sector. This section is a guide to CAS with some facts, how they operate and important information to know when interacting with CAS.
Family Centred Practice involves various approaches that advocate for better circumstances for families in various ways. This section will explore what this practice entails and key information regarding the benefits of utilizing it.
The Child, Youth and Family Services Act has large amounts of important information regarding rights and regulations. In this section, we have shared some key information regarding your rights and what is legally required by the law and the Act.