Child protection standards and risk assessments

When Ontario’s Child Protection Services gets involved in divorce proceedings, it can complicate an already tense situation. While many people have a negative association with Child Protection Services, it’s important to understand that they attempt to determine whether the children are safe, and if not, how to ensure they are safe moving forward. In some cases, this can be done in a joint effort with the family.

One of the tasks of Child Protection Services is to complete risk assessments, and this is done with the family. A risk assessment involves the caseworker talking with all of the involved family members about what the safety concerns are and why and how things got to this point. The caseworker will also listen to the family’s concerns and work to understand the family’s point of view.

After the issues have been clearly identified and everyone is one the same page, the caseworker and the family can begin making clear goals and a plan of action to fix the issues. In general, the more collaborative the process and the more involved the family is, the better chance there is at a positive outcome. It’s important to be honest with your caseworker about any concerns you have or challenges you are facing so that you can ensure the proposed plan is a workable solution.

Because Child Protection Service’s involvement in divorce cases may impact the court’s decision on matters involving the children, it’s also important to keep your lawyer informed of what is going on and communicate any questions or issues in a timely manner.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, “Child Protection Standards in Ontario,” accessed Aug. 20, 2015

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