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Amendments to the Child & Family Services Act [CFSA]

The changes to the CFSA fall under four categories:

 

  • Reflect Inuit Societal Values;
  • Increase Services and Supports;
  • Improve Accountability;
  • New Grounds for a finding that a child is in need of protection.

 

 

And relate to the following objectives:

Expand the duty to report under section 8 to apply where a person has, not just information, but also reasonable grounds, to believe that a child needs protection.

 

Expand the definition of a child who needs protection to include:

  • a child who is being repeatedly exposed to ongoing family violence;
  • a child who is being repeatedly exposed to pornography;
  • a child who is in significant contact with a person who possesses child pornography;

 

Rationale for the change:

  • Facilitate earlier identification of children at risk, so that supports to their families can be provided;
  • identifying situations of child neglect;
  • Protect against malicious reports of child abuse;
  • Amendment states that no person shall maliciously make a false report claiming that a child needs or may need protection.

 

Rationale for the change:

Inserts penalties for those making malicious reports.

 

Authorize voluntary service agreements or support service agreements to be made with young adults to the age of 26, if they were in care on reaching the age of 19.

 

Rationale for the change:

Provide greater support to young adults who have been involved in the social services system as they transition to independence; allow young adults to remain living with long-term foster parents, as do many of their peers outside the social services system

 

Improve Accountability

Require the annual report of the Director of Child and Family Services to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

 

Rationale for the change:

Ensure transparency; formalize existing practice.

 

New grounds for reporting child abuse:

  • Expand the definition of a child who needs protection to include a child who has been repeatedly exposed to pornography;
  • Expand the definition of a child who needs protection to include a child who is in significant contact with a person who possesses child pornography;
  • In these 3 grounds is also included the stipulation that “the child’s parent is unwilling or unable to stop such exposure” or to “prevent such contact”.

 

 

Summary of changes to the Act (Bill 51)

This Act amends the Child and Family Services Act to provide that the Act will be interpreted in accordance with Inuit societal values.

It also provides for protecting children in cases of child pornography and family violence, and for extending support agreements for youth up to age 26. In addition, it prohibits malicious false reports, mandates that the Director of Child and Family Services must respond to certain recommendation if a child in his or her care dies or is critically injured, and provides that the Director’s annual report be tabled in the Legislative Assembly

 

Background

The Recommendations for changes to the Act are contained in the following public reports:

The Final Report of the Knowledge Sharing Forum, A Review of Child Welfare Practices in Nunavut (February 2010)
The Social Services Review Final Report (October 2011)
The Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut – 2011: Children, Youth and Family Programs and Services in Nunavut (March 2011)