The Carlington Summit

Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton ready for new legislation

(Ottawa, 27 March) - The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton welcomes Bill 6 to ensure all children in the province receive grater protection. The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Bill 6) became law on 31 March as part of the Child Welfare reform.

‘This legislation clearly places the rights of children as a high priority in our society,” says Susan Abell, Executive Director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton. “Clarification about the definition of child protection will ensure that no child simply falls between the cracks.”

Here are the main amendments in Bill 6 that will directly prescribe the practice of child protection here in Ottawa-Carleton:

Clarification about the purpose of the Act:

The paramount purpose of Bill 6 is to promote the best interests, protection and well being of children. Other aims of the Act are maintained but subordinated to the best interests of children (for example, the preservation of the integrity of the family or the need for the Children's Aid Society to consider the least intrusive and disruptive course of action).

Expansion of the reasons for finding a child in need of protection:

Modified definitions of risk in the Bill now permit the CASOC to intervene earlier to protect children who are subjected to a pattern of neglect or where children are in the care of adults whose past conduct toward any child was harmful.

Earlier permanency planning for children:

Under the Amended Act, children under 6 are not to stay in temporary care for more than one year. Children aged 6 or older will continue to be able to stay in the temporary care of the CAS for a period of 24 months. However the time in care is now calculated cumulatively. The aim, here, is to promote early and decisive planning to ensure stability of a nurturing relationship in children's lives.

Greater CAS access to records of a person's past conduct toward a child:

The amendments will make it clear that evidence about the person's parenting history is pertinent to finding a child in need of protection.

Clarification and expansion of the duty to report:

There is now a greater responsibility by the public and professionals to directly report suspected cases to the CASOC. The new law establishes a lower threshold for reporting if there are “reasonable grounds to suspect.” as opposed to the current threshold, which is to “believe on reasonable grounds.” The duty to report applies to all grounds for protection instead of the current criteria based only on abuse or substantial risk of abuse. This duty to report is a direct responsibility and cannot be delegated to another person.

Mandatory review of the CFSA every 5 years:

The Amendments contain a mandatory review of the Act at least every 5 years.

“Our community's children will benefit from the process' consistency in the assessment of child's safety, his/her need for protection and risk reducing interventions,” adds CASOC Executive Director, Susan Abell.

Over the past few months, the CASOC has been actively meeting with all interested community groups to explain the details of Bill 6. “We believe that we now have enhanced tools to help and protect the children in our community,” explains Susan Abell. “And it is key for everyone in our community to understand these Amendments.” The CASOC provided care for over 1,800 families last year. As of last week, there were just over 1,000 children in care.

The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton (CASOC) is a non-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario. The CASOC is one of 54 agencies across the province regulated by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and governed by the Child and Family Services Act.

For more information call 747-7800