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Families Hate CAS

November 28, 2014 permalink

A report titled CAS Workers at Risk shows just how much animosity CAS clients have for social workers. Without speaking to a single affected parent or child, the researchers surveyed CAS employees, asking questions about the levels of client violence (including threats) experienced on the job. One chart tells the story.

Employee Experiences of Client Violence in 2013

Social workers characterize themselves as a helping profession. The results show instead that it is a policing profession.

Consistent with a wide range of prior research, child protection workers were found to experience a very high level of violence (assault/attempted assault, threats, stalking, and verbal or written abuse) -- levels which many researchers have suggested are only exceeded by the police.

Source: page ii

In 194 pages of discussion of child protection, there is only one instance of the word mother and no instances of father.

The report makes 46 recommendations. All but one are for more security or improved reporting. The exception is:

5. More thorough and consistent information about the rights of clients, the role of the Children’s Aid Society and the authority of CAS workers should be provided to clients upon initial contact and to all others who are touched by the Children's Aid system in order to achieve better understanding and reduce risks.

In a related vein, additional mechanisms should be created to obtain client input to CAS processes, and the mechanism for complaints reviewed, to ensure that client issues and concerns are dealt with thoroughly and in a transparent manner.

Source: page 42

Telling parents their rights at the outset might be an improvement, though the current list of parental rights under the Child and Family Services Act would be of little help.

Conspicuous by their absence are any suggestions to reduce hostility from families by a change of attitude, a switch to providing genuine help instead of bullying parents with the threat of child seizure.

The report prepared by SPR Associated Inc is available on the OACAS website as CAS Workers at Risk or as a local copy (pdf) The researchers sent questionnaires to over 5,800 of Ontario's estimated 8,665 CAS employees. In its own press release the OACAS uses the report to plead with the government to increase security for CAS employees. local copy (pdf).