Tips dealing with the Children's Aid Society in Ontario

 Having the Children's Aid (Child and Family Services) attend at your  home or talk to your children at school can be very stressful and  upsetting.  The Children's Aid does have the right to talk to your  children privately.  School officials and other service providers have  the legal obligation to contact the Children's Aid if they suspect child  abuse or neglect.  Usually, the Children's Aid will talk to your child  and close the file. 

 

The  next level of intervention would be to work with the Family on a  "voluntary" basis.  The Children's Aid may encourage you to enter into a  Voluntary Services Agreement.  This Agreement is voluntary from the  point of view that entering into it is optional.  You are expected to  obey the Agreement, once you have signed it.  Typically, the Children's  Aid Society may threaten you with removing the children or going to  Court if you refuse to sign.  It is best to talk to a lawyer at this  stage.  Often, the Agreement will contain a synopsis of events that  generally reflects the Children's Aid's version of events.  If the  Society takes the matter to Court, this Agreement will form part of the  Society's evidence including the synopsis.  The Society is governed by  certain laws regarding the apprehension of children.  They generally  need to obtain a warrant from a Justice of the Peace, except under  certain extreme circumstances.  The Society has no choice but to  apprehend a child in certain circumstances.  Usually, these  circumstances do not exist if the Children's Aid Society is asking that  you enter into a Voluntary Services Agreement.The next level of  intervention is taking the parents to Court by way of an Application  for a Supervision Order (where the child stays with one or both  parents), a Society Wardship Order (where the child lives with a foster  family on a temporary basis) or Crown Wardship Order (Where the child  becomes a Ward of the Crown, usually without access, with a view to find  an adoptive family for the child).
 


 This is a very emotional and difficult area of Law.  Generally, Legal  Aid will issue certificates to defend these proceedings as long as you  qualify financially.  I am not on the Legal Aid panel and do not accept Legal Aid  certificates.  A list of panel lawyers can be found on the Legal Aid website or at the FLIC office at most courthouses.

It is important to  remember that when the Children's Aid starts an Application against you,  that you also have an opportunity to tell the judge your side of what  happened by completing an Answer.  An Answer is a very important  documents and if at all possible, should be completed with the  assistance of a lawyer.  Many people will complete the Answer and will  then obtain a lawyer, once they have been to Court a few times.  It is  better to have a lawyer represent you at the begining, particularly as  these cases are very time sensitive and it is easy to run out of time.   The Answer sets out your defence and a lawyer will know what to put in  the document, and what not to put in.  You always have to be truthful  but often unrepresented parties will spend a lot of time talking about  irrelevant issues and will not talk about relevant issues.