THE C.A.S. MUST DECIDE ON A CHILD’S PLACEMENT WITHIN THE DEADLINE EVEN IF IT IS NOT THE PARENT’S FAULT THAT THEY CANNOT DEMONSTRATE HIS OR HER IMPROVEMENT.
In the case of Children’s Aid Society of Toronto v LL the Justice Heather Katarynych dealt with a case in which the C.A.S. wanted An Order for Crown wardship with no access. In essence, it meant that the two boys would be in care of a foster family. It also meant that the biological Mother’s involvement with the boys would by at the foster parents’ sole discretion. The Mother wanted the boys returned to her. She cited her successful recovery from alcoholism.
Of interest to this case was that two people strongly criticized the C.A.S. for not doing more to integrate the boys back into the Mother’s life. The advocates were the Mother’s psychiatrist and a “community based social worker”. The advocates not only wrote letters on the Mother’s behalf, but also testified at trial.
Justice Katraynych dismissed the advocates’ position because they failed to understand the statutory mandate of the C.A.S. The C.A.S. primary focus is to ensure that the children’s best interests are maintained and that the child is placed in a stable home within a certain period of time.
Justice Katraynych also criticized the advocates because they did not examine the needs of the boys. The psychiatrist was offered a chance to review the O.C.L. Report so that the treatment could focus on addressing the Mother’s continuing issues but the psychiatrist declined to do so.
Within 24 months, the C.A.S. must place children that are older than 6 years. In this case, the children have been in care for 32 months. The deadline is fixed. The fact that the Mother was not receiving community support in time was irrelevant. The C.A.S. was not entitled to “wait and see” if a new round of alcohol rehabilitation would be effective. If the Mother was not ready to care for the boys at the end of two years then she cannot have them even if it is likely that she will be ready to parent in the future.
Justice Katraynych also defended the C.A.S. by stating that it is not the C.A.S.’s position to secure treatment or assessments for the Mother.
Conferencing between the Mother and the C.A.S. was to focus on the needs of the boys, not in addressing the Mother’s steps progress to have the boys returned to her.
Even when it is clear that the C.A.S. is not supporting the Mother, the Mother still has an obligation to work with the C.A.S. and to provide relevant information because both are necessary for the best interests of the boys.
In the end, the C.A.S. obtained crown wardship of the boys. Any access with the Mother was to be at the sole discretion of the C.A.S.
With the wait times for community services growing longer and longer, it is possible that many parents will lose their children due to this deadline. In addition, parents need to secure expert reports regarding the parent’s ability to parent. Mere letters of opinion are insufficient. The challenge, however, is both getting sufficient funds to pay for these reports and finding someone who will do an assessment within the statutory deadlines.