The child protection industry in the province of Ontario suffers from many serious issues that adversely affect and often destroy the lives of countless children and families every year.
These issues are often caused by the lack of accountability and/or transparency of Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies.
As many are unaware, Children’s Aid Societies in the Province of Ontario are not government agencies of any kind but rather are private organizations that are government funded based primarily on the number of children in their care and the number of files open on families.
Unfortunately, this funding model often creates perverse financial incentives for CAS’s to apprehend children from loving homes where there is no need of protection and to be involved with families for much longer than necessary for nothing more than to retain funding.
This accompanied with the apparent lack of any accountability or oversight whatsoever, creates massive problems that are ruining the lives of children and families.
Transparency is very important when dealing with the protection of children but it appears that almost every CAS in the province will refuse at all costs to show any transparency whatsoever.
This is where the issue of obtaining your internal file comes in. Every family or former CAS ward has the legal right to obtain a copy of their child protection and/or in care internal CAS file.
There are many reasons why someone would want these internal files ranging from a family that is fighting the CAS in court that could use this file to create a much more fair and just environment during legal proceedings, families and former crown wards that could to use the files for future litigation against a Society or it can be as simple as a former crown ward could benefit from being able to read this file to fill in missing gaps in their lives.
But for some reason as people find out, it is generally not a simple process to obtain your internal CAS files because even though you have the right to this information almost every CAS in the province will attempt to avoid providing you with your file at all costs.
Typically when someone requests a file from their local CAS, they often receive no response at all or they are provided a response that falsely implies that by law, they are not required or not allowed to provide this information.
Or on rare occasions, a Society may actually allow a family an hour or so to view their few thousand page file in the office but will not allow them to make copies or take pictures of anything within the file. They will also force a family to sign an agreement before the viewing that nothing in the file can be used against them in future litigation.
There is one case in Belleville Ontario for example, where a family had requested their child protection file from the Highland Shores CAS and they were met by such unreasonable opposition that the family had to resort to legal action that took over 6 months in court before it was eventually ordered that the Society provide the family with their file.
Then after the court had ordered that the Society provide the file, the Society failed to comply with the order for a number of months until the Ontario court justice threatened the Society with contempt of court so eventually after a total of 8 to 9 months in court and several thousand dollars in legal fees, the family received most but not all of their internal file.
Why does the CAS appear to be against providing someone with their file?
The answer seems to be that CAS’s in the province of Ontario do not want to provide these files as it can expose their wrongdoings and unlawful actions. In the mentioned HSCAS case, once the family obtained their file it was found that the HSCAS had committed multiple criminal offences during the duration of the case. This includes the fact that the HSCAS had applied for a warrant to apprehend three children and when that warrant request was denied do to no verified protection concerns, the Society made a conscious decision to go against the order of the court and the law to apprehend the children anyway just hours after the warrant was denied.
The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry CAS in Cornwall Ontario however appears to have a different policy on file disclosure than the rest of the province.
A former ward of the SDG-CAS in November of 2012 had written a letter requesting disclosure of her file. Shockingly enough, she was not met with opposition, but rather received a response stating that she is entitled to her file and they will send it to her. A month later, she receives a package from the SDG-CAS that contained 1,500 or so pages of her internal file.
This was simply provided to her free of charge and delivered to her doorstep with absolutely no opposition whatsoever.
After reading through the disclosure, there was a considerable amount of information missing. So she wrote another letter to the SDG-CAS requesting the missing information and to her surprise she received a call from the Society where she was informed that she would be provided the rest of her file but it would take time to prepare. So when the file was ready she received another call from the Society and it was expressed that she should drive to Cornwall and pick up the file and the Society even offered to reimburse her for fuel. So that is what happened. She drove to the CAS office and they sat her down and they went through the file to make sure everything was there. They even ordered lunch as she was getting hungry at one point. Once it was confirmed that everything was there, it was all packed up in a box and she was provided gas cards as promised cover her fuel. Then she was on her way with her complete file that was around 3,000 pages more than the original disclosure.
So the real question is considering the fact that the SDG-CAS is so willing to be reasonable and lawful regarding their file disclosure policy, why is every other CAS in the province fighting so hard to keep this important information from people?
The only reasonable conclusion is that Children’s Aid Societies are against disclosing this information due to the fact that they have something to hide do not want their unlawful and often immoral actions exposed and want everything to remain secret so that they cannot be held accountable.
Article Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/why-are-ontario-s-children-s-aid-societies-fighting-against-transparency