Child Maltreatment

Policy

Category: Child and Family Health Division General
Subject: Child Maltreatment
Division: N/A
Policy Number: CA.95.01.101
Effective Date: Feb 27, 1990
May 2008

POLICY STATEMENT

Any employee of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH), who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is, or may be, in need of protection, must promptly report their suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a Children’s Aid Society.  WDGPH employees will abide by all regulations as outlined in the Child and Family Services Act http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90c11_e….

The duty to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect prevails over all confidentiality standards including the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) and Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). Client-solicitor privilege is the only exception [CFSA s. 72(7) (8) (9)].

In duty to report situations, the safety, protection and well-being of the child are of primary importance. 

BACKGROUND

The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) recognizes that everyone has a responsibility to protect children from harm. Section 72 of the Act states that members of the public, including professionals who work with children, must immediately report to a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) any suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection from physical, sexual or emotional harm, neglect, or risk of harm.

It is an offence under the CFSA for an employee of a service provider agency not to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect when the information is obtained in the course of his/her professional or official duties. If convicted, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000. [CFSA s.72 (4) (5) (6) (6.2)].

Employees making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect to a CAS are protected against legal action unless they acted maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the suspected abuse.

DEFINITIONS

Child

A person under 16 years of age, or under 18 years of age if the child is the subject of an order under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) for care, custody or supervision [CFSA s. 37(1)].

Child in Need of Protection

A child who is, or appears to be, suffering from abuse or neglect. The CFSA clearly defines what constitutes child abuse or neglect. More information can be found in the Eligibility Spectrum www.oacas.org/pubs/oacas/eligibility/EligibilitySpectrum06nov1.pdf.

Parent/Caregiver

A primary caregiver, including mother, father, live-in partner, caregiver exercising access contact, adult with a custody or control order for the child, and foster parent; other person in charge of a child such as an assigned caregiver, including day care worker, babysitter, a family member providing temporary substitute care, and a partner of the caregiver who does not have a legal relationship to the child, or an assumed caregiver, including a teacher, recreational group leader, and school bus driver [Ontario Child Welfare Eligibility Spectrum, 2006, p.12].

Children’s Aid Society (CAS)

An organization has exclusive responsibility for the provision of child protection services under the CFSA. Each society is an independent, non-profit organization with a local board of directors.

The main duties of a Children’s Aid Society are to investigate allegations or evidence that children under the age of 16 years may be in need of protection; protect, where necessary, children who are under the age of 16 years; provide guidance, counselling and other services to families for protection of children or for the prevention of circumstances requiring the protection of children; provide care for children assigned to its care under the Act; supervise children assigned to its care under the Act; and place children for adoption [Ontario MCYS, Child Protection web page: http://www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/child/protection/index.html
[Retrieved Feb. 8, 07].

Reasonable Grounds

The information an average person, exercising normal and honest judgment, would need in order to make a decision to report [Ontario MCYS, 2005]. 

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

CA.95.02.101 Child Maltreatment
ADM I 190 Reporting Suspicions of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child and Family Services Act (CFSA)
Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)

APPROVED BY

Andrea Roberts 


Procedure

Category: Child and Family Health Division General
Subject: Child Maltreatment
Division: N/A
Procedure Number: CA.95.02.101
Effective Date: Feb 27, 1990
May 2008

PROCEDURE

1.  Referral to a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) may occur at any point and must occur if the legislated duty to report is satisfied.  The grounds to report are outlined in Subsection 72 (1), (2) and (3) in the Child and Family Services Act, Section 72.
http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90c11_e….  This report must be made as soon as suspected abuse or neglect has been identified.

2.  If you suspect that a child is in immediate danger, call the police. Promptly inform your Manager that you have contacted the police. Then, contact a CAS to make a report.

3.  Employees may request an anonymous consult with a Children’s Aid intake worker if clarification or more information is required to make the decision to report. If at any point during the consultation the CAS worker decides a report must be made, the employee is obligated to provide his/her name and all pertinent information pertaining to the family.

4.  The employee who identifies or suspects child abuse or neglect or a need for child protection, must be the one to make the call to a Children’s Aid Society.  The employee must not rely on anyone else to report on his or her behalf. No one, including a Manager, should advise another not to report suspicions of abuse or try to stop the person from reporting/consulting with a CAS [CFSA, s.72 (6.1)].

5.  Do not leave a telephone message when reporting to CAS during regular business hours.  An intake secretary or intake worker will take the call, record the information and direct the case to a child protection worker. If calling after business hours including weekends, it will require leaving a message and a return telephone number with an answering service. Indicate if the call is an urgent matter. A return call from a child protection worker should follow soon after.

6.  Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) employees have an ongoing duty to report.  If an employee has made a previous report about a child, and has additional grounds to suspect that the child is or may be in need of protection, that employee must make a further report to a Children’s Aid Society.

7.  If an employee receives information regarding the suspected abuse or neglect of a child given from another person (third party) e.g. teacher, daycare worker, neighbour, relative:

  • The employee should strongly encourage the person with first-hand knowledge to call a Children’s Aid Society with the information; and
  • The employee must also report to a Children’s Aid Society indicating that the information is third hand.

8.  Have as much of the following information available as possible when consulting with or reporting to a CAS that a child may be in need of protection.

Identifying Information:

  • Child’s name;
  • Child’s date of birth or age;
  • Child’s gender;
  • Child’s address;
  • Child’s telephone number;
  • Child’s current whereabouts;
  • Identifying information for parent(s) or caregiver(s);
  • Identifying data on siblings (names, addresses, phone numbers);
  • Family address(es);
  • Family telephone number(s) – including business numbers;
  • Family’s present whereabouts;
  • Language spoken by family; and
  • Names, addresses and telephone numbers of other persons/agencies having relevant information.

What to Report:

  • Date of incident/disclosure;
  • Clear description of incident/disclosure (who, what, where, when, how);
  • Physical and behavioural indicators observed;
  • Child’s present condition (physical, emotional, safety issues);
  • Living conditions;
  • Relevant history;
  • Opinion regarding urgency;
  • Parent’s/caregiver’s reaction to your suspicion and intent to report (If parent/caregiver has been informed); and
  • Child’s reaction to your suspicion and intent to report (If child has been informed) any worker safety issues (e.g. dogs).

Professional Information:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Phone number;
  • Professional duties which led to concern;
  • Length of time family known;
  • Action taken prior to report; and
  • Plans for future involvement, if any.

9.  Do not discuss your suspicions regarding a child’s risk of harm with anyone who may interfere with or jeopardize the investigation.

10.  Notify the Manager or designate as soon as possible of the suspected abuse/neglect and whether a formal referral to a Children’s Aid Society was required.

11.  All verbal reports to CAS by Child and Family Health employees must be followed by a written report using the appropriate format:

  • CA.30.03.100   Report to Family and Children’s Services – HBHC
  • CA.30.03.102   Report to Family and Children’s Services – Limited Contact
  • CA.30.03.411   Report to Family and Children’s Services – Dental

Written reports must be completed within 14 days of the referral to a CAS. Additionally, they must be reviewed and signed by a Manager prior to being mailed.  The original report must be mailed to a CAS and a copy retained in the client file where one exists. Copies of limited contact forms will be filed by the Program Assistant in each area.
Guidelines for completing reports:

  • CA.30.03.101   Guidelines: Report to Family and Children’s Services – HBHC
  • CA.30.03.103   Guidelines: Report to Family and Children’s Services – Limited Contact
  • CA.30.03.104   Guidelines: For PHN Management of Child Welfare Cases
  • CA.30.03.412   Guidelines: Report to Family and Children’s Services – Dental

12.  Document on Progress Notes (PHHCR~F012) in the client file:

  • Date and time of report to the Children’s Aid Society;
  • Name of worker taking report; and
  • Cross-reference the written report in the entry.

13.  For more information on Public Health Nurse (PHN) role in working with families who have ongoing involvement with a CAS refer to CA.30.03.104 Guidelines for PHN Management of Child Welfare Cases.

(Adapted from Toronto Public Health. 2007)

 

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Child and Family Services Act (CFSA)
CA.95.01.101   Child Maltreatment
ADM I 190       Reporting Suspicions of Child Abuse and Neglect

APPROVED BY

Andrea Roberts