However, we all have the power to make a difference. October is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario – a time to raise awareness so that you can help keep kids safe all year long. Find out how you can do your part. The care and safety of our community’s children is a responsibility we all share. If you are concerned about a child or family in your community, please call the local Children’s Aid Society or Family and Children’s Services, so we can help.
Your call could save a life, rescue a child from a harmful situation and help a family get the help they need to ensure the care and safety of their children. We understand that making that call can be difficult. It may be helpful to know that:
Every person in Ontario has the legal and ethical duty to report their concerns that a child is, or may be at risk for abuse or neglect. It is the law and it is the right thing to do. Without your help, a child could remain at risk for harm.
You do not have to be a professional to share your concerns about a child or family who may be at risk. While parenting styles and values vary, most people can tell when a situation may need outside help. This includes your own family. You should call if you yourself are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of parenting.
You should call when you see something concerning, or a child tells you they have been, or they are afraid they may be harmed. This could include physical injuries, neglect, verbal or emotional abuse, age-inappropriate sexual knowledge, serious lack of supervision, parental problems such as drug or alcohol abuse, violence in the home or mental illness that places children at risk for harm.
On October 19th, Ontario will GO PURPLE to support vulnerable children and youth. The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies is joining partners, including teachers and students in schools across the province, and dressing in purple to raise awareness about child abuse.
These short animated videos walk you through your duty to report – how to call, when to call and what happens when you make that call.
A trained, professional child protection worker will take your information and ask you some questions to help understand the situation. Based on that information, they will decide what, if any action needs to be taken. In some cases, we will refer families to other helping community agencies for support and services. Response times can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the situation.
If we believe there may be a child protection concern, we will follow up with the family and possibly others in the child’s life, to determine the level of risk and how that can be alleviated. 97% of the time, children will remain at home in the care of their parents, while we provide supports and services to help ensure their care and safety.
Children are only admitted to foster care when there is an immediate risk or we have exhausted all other avenues that would enable them to remain safely at home. Our rate of admission to foster care is less than 4%. Many children are placed with appropriate family members. Many will be able to return to the care of their parents or family members in fewer than 3 months. This vast majority of our work is done in homes where children remain in the care of their parents.
What if I am not sure? What if the family gets upset? What if it breaks up the family? What if I am wrong?
These are all reasonable questions and concerns. You do not need to have proof in order to share your concerns, just a genuine care and concern about a child or family. Our professional staff is trained to assess your information and determine what, if any action is needed.
It can be upsetting for families to have a visit from Family and Children’s Services or CAS. We will do our best to allay their fears and reassure them that we are there to help. It is our job to ensure that children are safe. A child’s safety may be at stake – this should be the foremost concern for everyone.
The vast majority of our work is done with families where children remain in the care of their parents. Our rate of admission to care is less than 4% and only occurs when a child is at immediate risk, or all other avenues to ensure their safety have been exhausted.
If we find that no intervention or action is needed, service is discontinued. If you have made your report in good faith, you are protected under the law. Reports that are found to be made with malicious intent, could face charges.
We encourage any member of the community, who has a genuine concern about a child or family, to call us. Share that information and allow us to assess and decide what action may be needed. Our goal is to ensure the care and safety of children in our community – something we all want.
In 2015/16, we provided child protection services to 4,236 families in Niagara. 97% of the children in these families remained in the care of their parents with our support and services. Of those who were admitted to care, many were able to return safely to the care of parents and family members. We were only able to help them because someone cared enough to call.