The Children’s Aid Society (also known as Family and Children’s Services) is a non-governmental organization charged with the responsibility of looking after children who are deemed “in need of protection”. What many people don’t understand is that CAS is a private corporation that relies on funding from the government and charitable donations, all of which are ultimately traced back to the pockets of the people it serves. There are 47 separate CAS’s in Ontario alone and all of them are operated independently of each other. Each CAS operates with the same government mandate, however the emphasis placed on a number of the “rules” will vary from one region to the next, as will the beliefs, values, and attitude of it’s employees. Since each office operates independently it allows the entire system to avoid the onus of accountability. There Is no oversight save for a self-elected board allowing them to police themselves and leaving families no where to turn. The subjective nature of many conclusions drawn from investigations leads us to rely on the checks and balances within the system, the education of social workers, and the court processes. But when the doors are firmly shut tight on so much of what goes on, to the point that any independent oversight outside of their own organization simply does not exist in Ontario, one can only question what is trying to be covered up and who’s best interest is really in mind.
An entity whose role is both vital and necessary not only to the maintenance of a civilized society, but also as the safeguard to the future of many children who’s future would have otherwise been in doubt. With the mandate to investigate, provide services geared toward the improvement of family life, and in some cases assume responsibility for children altogether, the challenge is a heavy one, but is the internal drive to maintain the financial well being of the corporation itself overshadowing the intent behind it’s creation? How much are they really helping or hindering the children they families they serve?
Join me on a five part series examining the flip side of the Children’s Aid Society, it’s methods, the people whose lives it has touched, it’s power, and a quietly gathering storm of people who are slowly gaining ground in the fight against them.