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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. If I have concerns about a child, whom should I speak to?
Calls can be made to Society 24 hours a day. We will listen to your concerns and quickly determine how best to respond.

2. Can I make a referral to the CAS anonymously?
Yes, all calls to the Society are taken seriously regardless of whether you provide your name or not. Providing your name, however, allows for the protection worker investigating the matter to be able to clarify information with you at a later time. If you do provide your name and request that your name be held in confidence, we will always try our best to honour your request. However, there are occasions when identifying information and confidential information about a referral source must be shared as part of court proceedings that result from the investigation. It is also important to remember that you can call the Society and consult with a child protection worker with regards to a situation without identifying who the family is that you are concerned about, You will only be requested to provide information to identify the family if the circumstances that you describe turn out to be reportable.

3. At what age can a child babysit or be left unattended by an adult?
The Child and Family Services Act (the Legislation which provides the mandate and framework within which we operate) does not identify a specific age at which a child can be left alone, or an age at which a child can supervise or babysit other children. The Act recognizes that age alone is not the only significant factor to consider when considering the proper supervision of children. The Act says that a person who has charge of a child who is less than 16 years of age cannot leave the children without making provision for his/her care or supervision that is reasonable under the circumstances.

4. Is it illegal to spank your child?
While section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada specifically provides that schoolteachers, parents and persons standing in the place of a parent can use "force by way of correction" to discipline a child provided that the force does not exceed "what is reasonable in the circumstances", the use of corporal punishment is strongly discouraged and not condoned by the Society. It is the position of the Society that other forms of discipline are more effective in managing children's behaviour and less likely to cause harm. The Society responds to cases where physical punishment has been used in an inappropriate or excessive manner that could lead to a child being injured or where such discipline has resulted in an injury.

5. When should I call the police rather than the CAS?
If a child is in immediate danger and emergency services are required please call 9-1-1. If you have knowledge of a criminal act committed against a child, contacting the police is advisable.

6. Can I call the CAS for assistance with my own family?
Yes. At any time, you can call the Society to consult with a child protection worker with regard to difficulties that you are experiencing with your children. The Society's intake and assessment screening team will assess your family's needs and determine the appropriate response which would be most supportive to your family.

7. Who is a "child in need of protection"?
A child in need of protection is a child under the age of 16 who has been determined, by a child protection investigation, to have experienced abuse and/or neglect or to be at risk of experiencing same. A comprehensive definition of what constitutes a child in need of protection can be found in the Child and Family Services Act, s. 37(2).

8. Who is responsible for reporting suspected cases of child abuse?
"If a person, including a person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children, has reasonable grounds to suspect any of the conditions noted in section 72(1) of the Child and Family Services Act (please see attached to this document) the person shall forthwith report the suspicion and the information on which it is based to a Society. This duty is ongoing and cannot be delegated. Persons with questions or concerns about whether such reasonable grounds exist in a given situation are encouraged to contact the Society for consultation.

9. What happens when I call CAS?
Your call will be responded to by the intake and assessment screening team which has the expertise to guide you through the referral process. The worker, once satisfied that the call appears legitimate, will ask for identifying information about the child and family including information such as their name, age and whereabouts, language, religion and why you are concerned for the child's safety. The worker will determine with your assistance how best to respond to your concerns. In some cases this would include an investigation and in other circumstances no further involvement is necessary. The intake and assessment screener can, if appropriate, link the family to community services which may be better suited to address the concerns.

10. When are police involved in a child protection investigation?
If the Society, while conducting a child welfare investigation, obtains information to suggest that a criminal offence has occurred in relation to the child, the Society is under an obligation to contact the police. Similarly, if police receive information about a criminal matter in which children have been involved or impacted in some manner they will contact the Society. In situations where there is a role for both police and the Society a joint investigation will be initiated. During this investigation, the Society's focus is on the safety and well being of the children while the police focus remains on the allegations as they pertain to the Criminal Code and whether a criminal offence has occurred.

11. If I am dissatisfied with the service that I received from the CAS what do I do?
Any client who has sought or received services from the Society may access the client complaint procedure process as set out in section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act. The procedure includes both an internal and external review. Each client is provided with a copy of the Society's complaint procedure upon initial contact.

Client Complaint Procedure (English)

Client Complaint Procedure (French)

12. What happens after an investigation is completed?
In cases where a child is determined to be in need of protection and ongoing service to the family is required, the Society will remain involved and work in collaboration with the family to address the protection concerns. In cases where a child is found not to be in need of protection, the Society can still provide the family with referrals to appropriate community support resources that can assist the family following the completion of the investigation.

13. What if a family does not speak English?
The Society recognizes the vast cultural diversity in the Region and, where appropriate, can use an interpretation service to assist child protection workers in their work with the family. The Society also works collaboratively with various ethno-specific community based agencies that can provide supports that respect a family's cultural and religious background.