Children’s Aid Society Cases
When a Children’s Aid Society representative visits your home, it can be one of the most terrifying things for any parent because these are never done as random spot checks. A call from a CAS agent is always because someone has reported you based on suspicions over your parenting or a child’s safety and welfare. Because of the delicate nature of these visits, there are several things you should know about your rights and the steps you should and must take after a visit.
What to Do When a Child Protection Worker Visits Your Home
Unlike criminal proceedings, you are not allowed to remain silent when a child protection worker visits your home. In fact, refusal to speak to them or refusal to allow your children to speak to them could result in serious consequences including extensive searches of the home and even removing children from the home immediately.
First impressions are also extremely important. Because many of the claims and allegations that a child protection worker deals with may not have physical evidence, they will often make decisions based on instinct. Making a good first impression and presenting a child-friendly home environment could prevent further actions and investigations from occurring.
What to Do if You are Investigated by Children’s Aid Society
After an initial visit from a worker, there may be additional investigations conducted. If you find yourself in this position, here are some things you should do:
- Hire a CAS Lawyer: Cases of child protection matters are specialized and unique with a wide range of factors and circumstances to consider. Because of this complexity, it is imperative that you hire a child protection lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer trained in these specialized laws can help you question the investigation and findings of the CAS worker. Doing this early on will give you a better chance of preventing your children from being taken away and/or getting them back more quickly.
- Be Accommodating to the Child Protection Worker: Again, unlike a criminal matter, this is not a time to remain silent. The worker who comes to your home is there to see the environment and assess if it is safe for children. Refusing to speak to them will create the impression that you have something to hide and this can result in immediate actions being taken. The exception to this is if you or someone in the household has been accused of a crime, such as child molestation. In this case, you will also be speaking with police and you should have your lawyer present. Overall, you should go out of your way to be nice to the worker and thank them for being concerned for your children.
- Keep Your Home in Order: Having a tidy home is a good indicator to workers that you are coping well and are able to care for children. Some of the things to ensure your home is likely to pass a child protection visit include:
- Having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Keep adequate food in the home
- Baby and kid proof the home, i.e. electrical socket covers, medicines and chemicals are out of reach, etc.
- Have appropriate toys, furniture and activities available for children
- Evidence of a happy household including family photos and mementos
- Offer to give the worker a tour before they have to ask. This shows your pride in your home and willingness to be open with them.
- Consult with a Lawyer: Even if you are unable to have a lawyer at your home at the time of the worker’s visit, you should consult with one before signing anything.
- Confirm the Status of Your Case: While the best-case scenario is that the worker will visit once and the case will be closed, this is not how it always works. If the case ends up being ongoing, you have a right to see the file. This can help you learn more about what the agency is looking for and why they are investigating you in the first place. A qualified child protection lawyer like the ones at DSF, will be able to help you get this file. While you are entitled to it, there are often delays in having it released especially if you do not have professional legal representation.
Expert Legal Help from DSF
The complex nature and high stakes of Children’s Aid Protection cases make having a qualified legal professional crucial. At DSF, we understand how upsetting and frustrating dealing with these matters can be and we will work with you to minimize stress on your children and ensure you get the support you need.