A Member’s Duty to Report under the Child and Family Services Act
Section 72(1) of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) requires “a person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children” to report any reasonable grounds to suspect that a child under their care is at risk of harm, abuse, neglect, etc. There are a number of situations and types of harm that are mentioned in the Act. These are detailed below. A failure to report can lead to conviction of a provincial offence, and a fine, as well as an investigation at the Ontario College of Teachers.
What kinds of situations trigger a member’s Duty to Report?
Section 72(1) of the CFSA describes the following situations:
A member does not need to be sure that any of the situations above is taking place. The member needs only “reasonable grounds to suspect” that one of the events has occurred.
Members are professionals who deal with children on a daily basis and are alert to many cues from them. Students may also disclose information to members which they don’t disclose to other people. If you are unsure whether you should call CAS, call your local ETFO president or Professional Relations staff (PRS).
What kind of reporting is required?
A member must:
What happens if a member fails to make a report to a Children’s Aid Society?
It is a provincial offence for a member to fail to report. If convicted, this can lead to a fine of up to $1000. In order to be found guilty, the failure to report must concern information or suspicions that a member learned of through his or her professional duties, and does not apply to volunteering or work outside of his or her role as a member, according to the courts of Ontario. It does not normally involve information learned outside of teaching, off duty.
It is also a breach of a member’s professional obligations to fail to report to the CAS. Failing to report can lead to a complaint under the Ontario College of Teachers Act. Regulation 437/97 - Professional Misconduct states that it is professional misconduct to fail a duty under the CFSA. This includes failing the duty to report. Consequences for a teacher could include a variety of penalties under the College of Teachers’ Act, depending on the circumstances of the failure to report.
Bill 157 – Keeping Our Kids Safe at School Act
Bill 157 also obligates members who become aware that a pupil of a school of the board may have engaged in an activity described in subsection 306(1) or 310(1) of the Education Act (suspension and expulsion offences) shall, as soon as reasonably possible, report to the principal about the matter. For more information, see PRS Matters Volume 51and VOICE Volume 12 – No. 2.
For further information contact your local ETFO president or Professional Relations staff in Protective Services at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836.