What Is The CAS?
Protecting children and helping build healthy families
Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies (CASs) are not-for-profit agencies that protect children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect.
Throughout Ontario, these Societies have been keeping children safe, helping parents build healthy families, and providing safe, nurturing environments for young people who can't live at home because of family problems.
Understanding the needs of each community
Each CAS is locally based in order to understand and respond to the specific needs of children and families in each community. In some communities, CASs are known as Family and Children's Services.
The government of Ontario funds each CAS for child protection services we're required to provide by law. Some CASs have charitable foundations or other fund-raising programs to raise and distribute money for services that the province doesn't fund. This includes parent education programs, enrichment programs to promote healthy development of disadvantaged children, and educational opportunities for children to pursue their interests and build successful lives for themselves.
Keeping children safe by supporting healthy families
Raising children is not easy. Even in the best of circumstances it's a job that takes a lot of time, energy and patience.
It's even harder when you also have to cope with serious problems like poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, ill health, relationship breakdown, or the challenge of caring for children with physical, emotional or developmental difficulties.
Families in these circumstances come under a lot of stress. This can harm family relationships, and distressed parents may abuse or neglect their children. Sadly, the cycle of abuse often perpetuates itself - with abused children becoming abusive adults.
Prevention is key
We believe that the best way to deal with child abuse and neglect is to prevent it. That's why we encourage people to contact us before their family problems get out of control. We can help them through the rough times, and support and strengthen their family so they're able to parent their children safely.
Child protection is our responsibility
Child protection is our ultimate responsibility. Therefore, the CAS must intervene in any situation where a child under 16 has been, or is, threatened with physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or neglect.
Because children are almost always better off growing up in their own homes, we try to keep families together whenever we can. Most of the families we work with receive help through counselling and various support services to create safe homes for their children. If that fails, we may seek a court order to supervise children in their own homes, or place them in an alternate home.
We are here to help
If you are having difficulties caring for your children, help is available through the CAS and other community agencies.
We'll help you learn how to provide a safe and loving environment for your children and help you deal with problems such as anger and stress. We can also teach you new ways to deal with problems, and help you develop skills for handling crises.
You can help keep children safe
Here's what you can do to protect children from abuse and neglect
Be aware of your duty to report a child's need for protection - and act on it!
Children are dependent on adults for love, support and nurturing. Therefore,we're all responsible for protecting them from abuse - whether by a parent, sibling, babysitter, relative, family friend or stranger.
If you think a child is being abused or neglected, it's your legal duty to report the situation to a Children's Aid Society, even if you've already reported it on a previous occasion.
You're protected from any kind of legal action, provided the report is not a deliberately false accusation. For the child's sake, you should report the situation without delay by phoning your local CAS or Family and Children's Services. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.