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You might have been warned of their visit, but they do not need to
give you notice. The visit could be the result of someone giving
Children’s Aid information about your parenting which raises
concerns about the safety or well-being of your children. You may
never know what made them come knocking.
You must answer the door. You must let them in. This intrusion
can be alarming and upsetting. But what do you do next? How can you
act to best keep your family together?
Contact a family lawyer or a child protection
The stakes are high. Children’s Aid could take your children
away as a result of this visit.
If you have been given advance notice, contact a family lawyer
or a child protection lawyer as early as possible. If you did not
receive notice, contact a family lawyer or a child protection
lawyer as soon as practicable. The circumstances of each situation
are unique; tailored advice to your situation may be critical in
preventing the seizure of your children, or in expediting their
return if they are removed.
Speak to a lawyer before signing any kind of
“agreement” with Children’s Aid. It is possible that
the Society may request “authorizations” from you to
speak with other people as part of their
investigation—e.g. teachers, doctors, et
cetera—and your consent will simply speed up this process
(they will be able to eventually speak with them regardless of
whether you consent or not). Generally speaking, if you are
uncertain what you are being asked to sign, speak with a family
lawyer or a child protection lawyer first.
If any criminal charges such as assault or sexual assault are
alleged, do not discuss these matters with Children’s Aid until
you have spoken with a lawyer. Children’s Aid works with the
police and will report everything you say to them and they may be
used against you. That being said…
Be welcoming, friendly, and co-operative
Children’s Aid is not the police. Work together with them
and show that you share their concern for the safety and well-being
of your children. Be a “team player,” knowledgeable that
the goal is to ensure that all that happens is in the best interest
of the children. Do not refuse to meet with Children’s Aid or
otherwise behave in a manner that raises their suspicion that you
have something to hide.
If you had time to prepare for the visit, ensure your home makes
a good first impression. This means ensuring the home covers the
basics: safe for children with enough food but also demonstrates
that this is a happy and loving home. Children’s Aid will want
to inspect everywhere—e.g. see the children’s
rooms—so be welcoming and offer them a complete tour.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be a heightened emphasis
on health and safety. Show Children’s Aid that you and your
family are taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the
virus. Do the children know to wash their hands before eating? Do
they practice social distancing from their friends or wear
appropriate face coverings when in public places?
Allow Children’s Aid to speak with your children
Children’s Aid has the right to interview your children
without your consent. Facilitate this and make it easy for them. As
a parent, do not create the impression that you are attempting to
interfere or hide something.
While children have the right to have a lawyer present while
speaking with Children’s Aid, this is the right of the
child—not the parent. It must be the child who arranges to
have a lawyer present if this is their desire.
Do not assume that Children’s Aid has completed its
investigation until you are notified that the file is closed. Ask
for disclosure if the investigation is ongoing.
After the home visit, you may be watched from a distance.
Knowing how to act and respond to an investigation from
Children’s Aid may improve the chances that your family remains
together. If you are uncertain, contact a family lawyer or a child
protection lawyer as soon as possible.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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