Frequent Asked Questions
Who is a “child in need of protection”?
The Child and Family Services Act defines a child in need of protection as a child who is or who appears to be suffering from abuse and/or neglect.
Who is responsible for reporting a child in need of protection?
Anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection must promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a CAS.
What are “reasonable grounds” to suspect child abuse or neglect?
It is not necessary for you to be certain a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a CAS. “Reasonable grounds” refers to the information that an average person, using normal and honest judgment, would need in order to decide to report.
What is the age of the children to whom the “duty to report” applies?
It applies to any child who is, or appears to be, under the age of 16 years. It also applies to children already under a child protection order who are 16 and 17 years old.
What does an “ongoing duty to report” child abuse or neglect mean?
Even if you know a report has already been made about a child, you must make a further report to the CAS if there are additional reasonable grounds to suspect that the child is or may be in need of protection.
Can I rely on someone else to report?
No. You have to report directly to a CAS. You must not rely on anyone else to report on your behalf.
Do professionals and officials have any special responsibilities to report?
Professionals and officials have the same duty as the rest of the public to report their suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection. However, the Act recognizes that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse and neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions. Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion is liable on conviction to a fine of up to $1,000, if they obtained the information in the course of their professional or official duties.
Who does the Act consider a person who performs professional or official duties?
- Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists
- Teachers and school principals
- Social workers and family counsellors
- Religious leaders, including priests, rabbis and members of the clergy
- Operators or employees of child care programs or centres
- Youth and recreation workers (not volunteers)
- Peace officers and coroners
- Child and youth service providers and employees of these service providers
- Any other person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child
What about professional confidentiality?
A professional must report that a child is or may be in need of protection, even when the information is otherwise confidential or privileged. This duty overrides any other provincial statutes, and specifically overrides any provisions that would otherwise prohibit someone from making a disclosure. Only lawyers may not divulge “privileged” information about their clients.
Will I be protected from liability if I make a report?
Yes. If a civil action is brought against you for making a report, you will be protected unless you acted maliciously or without having reasonable grounds for the suspicion.
What happens when I call a CAS?
The CAS will investigate the information. The CAS has the responsibility and authority to investigate allegations and to protect children. The CAS may involve the police and other community agencies. All CASs provide emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What if I cannot reach the CAS?
If you think the matter is urgent and you cannot reach the CAS, call the police.