From ‘custody’ to ‘probation': Why are children in CAS described like criminals?

February 6, 2015

Thousands of Ontario children and youth are apprehended, placed into custody or put on probation every year without ever committing a crime.

And yet those are some of the terms Ontario’s child welfare legislation uses to describe how children’s aid societies treat kids who are neglected or physically and emotionally abused in their homes.

Advocates for children hope Ontario’s current five-year review of the provincial Child and Family Services Act will change this “archaic” terminology, using as a guide the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Every organization has a culture, and the language used within its services reflects that culture,” says the Children in Limbo Task Force, in its submission to the review.

“It is time to modernize and humanize the language by eliminating demeaning terms such as ‘apprehend,’ ‘custody,’ and ‘runaway,’ thus effecting a positive change to the act and to the culture in which we all live,” says the task force, a coalition of lawyers, social workers, academics and children’s aid officials.

The group partnered with former and current youth in the care of children’s aid societies. The young people’s views are also included in the submission.

They noted that children and youth in foster care and group homes already feel stigmatized because they aren’t living with their birth parents. The legal language used to describe their experiences adds to the pain, the task force said.

The review, launched last fall, specifically highlights modernizing and clarifying language in the act as a key goal for the province. Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles is scheduled to report on the review in April.

“We must change the lexicon,” said task force member Marv Bernstein, policy adviser for UNICEF Canada. “These children are not offenders, victims, or the property of others, but rather individuals full of potential for achievement and success in each of their own ways.”

Bernstein was Saskatchewan’s independent children’s advocate from 2005 to 2010 and chief legal counsel for the Toronto Catholic Children’s Aid Society from 1980 to 2000.

As a lawyer, he said he recognizes that changing legislative language may open the system to legal challenges. “However, as a task force we feel it’s important to convey a strong message to children and families that they are respected, that we want to humanize their situation,” he said.

“Apprehension” seems to be the most objectionable term, the task force found. In New Brunswick and British Columbia the term “removal” is now used in the legislation to indicate the non-consensual removal of a child from his or her home, Bernstein said.

Another option would be to say that a child has been “given into care” or “placed into care” of a children’s aid society without the consent of the parent or caregiver, he said.

“Custody” implies punishment and control, the task force heard. Instead, the legislation should say a child has been “placed in the care of a child welfare agency or residence.”

It is also important to look at language used in child welfare practice, the task force says. Young people don’t like being referred to as “cases” or “files,” Bernstein said.

When asked for their impressions of the act, youth were particularly upset about the term “runaway,” because it automatically labels them delinquent when they may be running away from a dangerous situation involving physical or sexual abuse.

“It takes away from the story of why the young person might want to escape from where they are,” said Cheyanne Ratnam, 27, a former youth in care who advised the task force.

“I know because I ran away before coming into care,” said Ratnam, who ran away because of “domestic issues” and chose to go into group care at age 13.

“The language is very stigmatizing and very disempowering,” she said.

“Crown wardship” and “society wardship” are outdated terms not used anywhere else in Canada, said task force member Gail Aitken, a former Ryerson University social work professor.

One of the youth who participated in the task force focus group wondered if becoming a Crown ward meant getting a crown, she said.

Instead, the act should refer to children “being placed into the temporary or permanent care of a children’s aid society,” she said.

The negative language persists even when children are adopted and put under “probation” before the arrangement is finalized, the task force said.

Instead of using such a quasi-criminal term, the task force suggests the act should say a child is in the “initial” or “first phase” of an adoption placement.

Youth should be consulted province-wide on any language changes to ensure they don’t find the new language equally offensive, Bernstein added.

The task force said it hopes addressing the language problems will open the door to a more thorough review that looks at the legislation through a children’s rights lens.

“We see this as a golden opportunity.”






Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre



Across Ontario, parents are worried about Domestic Terrorists snatching their kids and being a victim of Ontario's Fascist Criminal Cartel called the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario.

These 50 plus private corporations are above the law and have gained almost total control of the Judiciary who are increasingly "anointed" as judges after spending years Fabricating Evidence as part of their self serving Financial and Social Terrorism that costs Federal and Ontario Governments many billions of Dollars.

The reality is this is a legal, economic and social atrocity against the Rule of Law, Fundamental Justice and dam near the entire list of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If you meet a lawyer, a child protection worker, or worse still a child protection Supervisor like Rob Godman of Ottawa, you are looking at a "god father" of crime and child abuse that is beyond the comprehension of most Canadians.

Ottawa CAS lawyer Marguerite Lewis is a classic example of a Heinous Child Abusing psychopath who spends her life Abusing Children by Fabricating Evidence to suit her perverted sick Fascist agenda that is directed against male victims of domestic violence.

The result is that after decades of Domestic Terrorism by CAS Lawyers who fabricate evidence,  Fathers  are generally too afraid to contact CAS or the Police when mothers are violent to children and fathers. Its why 75% of the Ottawa Police Budget is effectively spent on the Fas.cist program of Gender Superiority, ie  Promoting Domestic Terrorism of murder and violence towards children and fathers by mothers.

It means fathers have to endure sometimes Daily Habitual Violence because if HE calls the police, the excrement of the the legal profession that make up the CAS legal team and their former workmates, the Judiciary of Ontario, will ensure the children are taken from the full time care of male victims of domestic violence and placed with the most violent mothers.

The word is that Marguerite Lewis after a notorious career of fabricating evidence and promoting Violence by mothers towards children and fathers, will be appointed as a Judge to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

There she will join her sisters and brothers, former CAS Lawyers like Jennifer Belishen and Timothy Minnema who now personally as Judges continue to Fabricate Evidence and ignore the most serious of criminal offenses against the administration of Justice.

Please feel free to forward this post to your Provincial and Federal Politician and ask for the Removal of Police Chief Charles Bordeleau who allows his police force to turn a Blind eye to the most serious of criminal offenses by authorities like "officer of the Court" "Marguerite Lewis" who Sgt John Gibbons concluded "She lied to the judge, its' perjury" after examining court transcripts and an affidavit that Marguerite Lewis falsely claimed contained numerous admissions of criminal offenses that did not exist.

The Ottawa Police Chief if he had any honour or pride would resign after reading the hundreds of posts in the every media in Ontario concerning the Fabrication of Evidence and Obstruction of Justice by
Detective Peter Van Der Zander.

Ottawa Mens Centre