Questions and Answers for Children
The questions and answers found in this section are based on some of the most common questions that Court Watch has received from children. These questions and answers are intended to help mature children learn about their rights and freedoms and how they can protect them. Depending on individual maturity and self determination, generally children 12 years of age and older will be able to understand and apply the information found in this section although some children younger than this can benefit from this information as well. The answers given here in this section are based on the opinions of parents and the experiences of other children who have already been through the family court system. Most information is based on the laws in the Province of Ontario but most other provinces will have similar legislation. Legal information can be obtained from a competent and ethical lawyer.
If you are a child involved in your parent's divorce and/or separation or should you be in the care or supervision of a child welfare protection agency and have a question that is not answered here, then please send it to us by e mail at email@example.com
Questions and answers for children who wish to live with their other parent or who wish to have more time with their other parent. - This is a direct link to the self help document "Do I have a Choice?" published by the parent's organization called "The Families for Justice Network."
I would like to speak to someone at Canada Court Watch and to have someone from Court Watch to help me. How can I do this?
Volunteer advocates with Court Watch can help you in a limited number of ways depending on where you live, which court you may be involved with and the ability to make direct contact with you. One way in which we help children is by giving them answers to their questions when they feel that CAS workers or their children's lawyer are not being truthful with them or not delivering services in a fair and efficient manner.
However, be aware that most children's lawyers and children's aid workers will not like you speaking with us because in many cases they don't want you to know your rights and freedoms or about some of the things you can do to defend your rights and freedoms. Although there are a number of good CAS workers and children's lawyers who do good work for children, unfortunately, there are many who do not. Those who do not want you to know about us, generally are afraid that we will show you how to expose them for doing an incompetent job and in some cases expose them for breaking the law. One of our main mandates is to teach you your rights and to make those who are supposed to be helping you, accountable for their actions. Where you have been lied to and deceived by workers, we will even assist you to launch personal lawsuits against those lawyers, CAS workers and foster care workers who have not done their job properly, however, it is important that you gather the right evidence at the time. We can't call you first so for us to be able to help, you must request our help by yourself. If you do wish to contact us, you should do so of your free will and not feel that you are being forced to do so by a parent or other family member, etc.
If you want us to help, mail us a letter to our address on the address below, preferable in your own handwriting. Writing in your own handwriting is better because CAS workers and children's lawyers may try to claim that your letter was typewritten by someone other than yourself or that you were forced to sign your letter by someone else. If there is an emergency situation and you need a response quicker, then you can send a note to us by e mail and outline your situation in your note. You may also call us by phone although response time by e mail is the quickest. . It would also be helpful if you e mailed us a recent digital picture of yourself, although sending us a picture of yourself is not necessary for us to provide help. If you have trusted family members that you feel that you would like us to speak to then provide the names and phone numbers of those persons as well so that we can contact them.
In your letter be sure to explain to us what are the things that are bothering you and what things have been done to you that you don't like while living in the care of the CAS. In your letter provide us with the names of those people who you feel are responsible and which CAS agency they work for. If you have not been happy with your children's lawyer, then tell us why as well. Make your list as detailed as possible and just tell us everything bad that has happened to you as a result of being in the care/supervision of the CAS. If you have seen foster parents be abusive or have seen other children abused while in foster care, then include this in your list enclosed with your letter. Make sure that you write your letter in secret so that CAS workers and foster home workers will not see it as they will likely take your letter away from you and destroy it. By law, you have the right to mail letters but the CAS workers may tell you that you don't have the right to speak to Court Watch volunteers. Remember that CAS workers who have violated your rights and freedoms will try to cover up the bad things they have done. Court Watch will help to expose those who do bad things to you and to assist you to get the help you need.
Mail your letter yourself and do not let any parent mail your letter for you. If you have someone you trust, then let that person know what you are doing and get them to help you with your letter. On your envelope do not put the return address of your foster home because if the letter gets lost it will be returned and your foster parents and CAS workers will find out and be able to read your letter. If you know of someone you trust, such as a parent or family member, then use their address as the return address on your envelope. Should your letter get lost somehow, then it will be returned to that address and not to your foster home address. Also, if possible, send us a safe phone number where we can contact you by phone. This would usually be the home of someone who is helping you.
Mail your request for help letter to:
Canada Court Watch
Make sure that "Canada Court Watch" appears on the first line.
My mom and dad are separated and my custodial parent is abusing me and my siblings. Can I secretly record the abuse using my own recording device?
If you are having difficulty getting others to believe that abuse is going on in your home, then it would be a good idea to capture such events on videotape or audiotape. Although the parent who is being abusive will not like this, your safety and security are more important than the feelings of an abusive parent. This evidence could be helpful to authorities to get the truth out and to confirm abuse which will help to protect you and your siblings in the long run. Don't let anyone tell you recording abuse is wrong, even if child protection workers tell you that you are not supposed to be doing this. There are some very small and high quality recording devices in the marketplace which make it very easy to record abuse without your abuser knowing. However, be especially careful to keep your recording device in a place where it will not be found and move the recordings to a safe place so that your abuser will not be able to find your recordings and to destroy them.
I am living in a foster home and I am being told that I cannot speak to my parents privately over the phone and that I cannot meet with them. What can I do?
You have the right to speak to your parents if you want to, even in a foster home or group home. Often Children's Aid Agency workers will keep you separated from your parents and other family members so that you cannot tell them about what is happening to you while in care of the CAS or to tell them that you want out of care. This is how Children's Aid Society controls children and keeps their wishes and preferences from being known. In essence the CAS is keeping these children in jail and this is a form of unlawful detention.
It is important that you find some way to make contact with your parents or family members secretly so that Children's Aid Agency workers will not find out, otherwise they may try to punish you. Some of the ways in which you can make secret contact with your parents include:
1) Make a phone call from a public mall
Once you have contacted your parents or family members then make sure you let them know what is happening to you and to work on a plan to get you back home. It is also helpful that you let your parents know the address of where you are located so that others can help you if needed.
I am living in a foster home and I am being told that I cannot speak to anyone from Court Watch or any other advocate of my choice and that I am only allowed to speak to my CAS worker or my children's lawyer. What can I do?
You have the right to request reasonable help and support from anyone you wish, including family and friends and church leaders and yes, even Canada Court Watch! If you are being told that you can only speak to CAS workers and your children's lawyer, or if you are being told that you can't use the phone to call us or to use a computer to e mail others for help and information, then you should send us a letter to us in secret, written in your own handwriting, clearly explaining what you are being told and by whom and why you want someone from Court Watch to help you. If you are being prevented from using the phone or the computer, then tell us that in your letter was well. If you feel afraid to speak up and to request your rights, or if you are being threatened by workers with further restrictions if you do not do as they tell you to, then let us know that in your letter as well. You should not have to feel afraid to use the phone to speak to persons you trust over the phone while in the care of the CAS and you should not have to feel afraid to ask. If your foster parent or group home supervisor is telling you that you can't contact Court Watch then you should ask that they advise you of these restrictions in writing from the CAS worker. If they won't give you the restrictions in writing they are likely afraid to put them in writing because they know that you can sue them later for a violation of your rights and freedoms.
Members of the public and members of Parliament do not like to hear about kids not being able to contact persons they trust and this sort of treatment of children by CAS workers will turn members of the pubic against the CAS and the children's lawyer's office. This is why they generally want to shut you up. They don't want your story to get out. Honest and law abiding workers should have no problem in allowing you to speak freely and to communicate freely about your rights and freedoms. Only workers with something to hide, will try to silence you.
We will help you to take action, including telling you how to sent a letter to your Member of Parliament and to arrange a personal meeting with your Members of Parliament. We can also show you how to contact the local newspapers about your story. Any attempts to interfere with your rights and freedoms and efforts to suppress your right to seek help from those you trust will be grounds for a lawsuit against the foster home parents, the Children's Aid Agency and/or your children's lawyer. We will help you to sue those responsible for lots of money once you get out of foster care. Remember that although the CAS workers and the foster and group home workers may be able to restrict you while in care, you will eventually get out - they can't keep you in care forever. Armed with the knowledge of what happened to you while in foster care and hopefully with some hard evidence of wrongdoing, when you are older, it will be your turn to have your day in court with these people and to expose them publicly with your story. In the end, the truth shall win over those people who denied you your basic rights and freedoms and they will pay for their crimes against you!
When I am on the phone at my foster/group home, people are listening to my phone conversations so I feel intimidated to talk about things to those I trust over the phone in case I get punished. Can they listen to my calls like this and if not, what can I do to?
Unless there is a court Order giving others permission to listen in on your conversations or unless the CAS has a reasonable belief that you may be speaking to person who may be bad influences on you, you have the right to privacy when you are on the phone. It is against the law under the Criminal Code of Canada for anyone to listen in or to record a conversation between you and another person without the knowledge and consent of either yourself or the person you are speaking to. If your wishes for privacy are not being respected then you should give notice to the foster home workers by simply telling them that you want your privacy respected. Sometimes foster/group home worker may make you speak on the phone in a room such as a kitchen so that others can always here what you are saying. This is their way of listening in on your conversations. If you want to speak to certain persons in private then you have that right. It would not be unreasonable for foster/group home workers to ask who you are speaking to and you should not be afraid to tell them the truth.
If your foster/group home workers tell you that they have to listen to your conversations because of CAS policies then you ask them to provide you with a copy of the instructions given to them from the CAS workers. If they don't show you anything in writing then tell them that you will report them to authorities if they listen in on your conversation again. If you wish, send a secret letter to Court Watch advising us of your phone conversations being listened to and we will send a letter to the CAS warning them to stop this practice in all foster/group homes in the jurisdiction of that particular CAS agency. We will not identify you or the home you are located in so CAS workers will not know that it is you who has complained to us. We need your letter to show as proof to the Members of Parliament that people in authority with the CAS are breaking the law by listening to your calls and not respecting your privacy.
Listening in on your phone calls while in care can be one of the grounds for a later lawsuit against the foster/group home workers and CAS workers if they do not stop when asked. If your phone calls are being listened to then you should be advised of this in writing by the CAS and advised as to why.
I am in a foster/group home and I am being told that I cannot make phone calls to certain people because it is long distance. What can I do?
A number of children have reported that they are being told that they cannot call certain people because it involves long distance phone charges. In this day of inexpensive long distance phone packages, free long distance should be included by CAS if you are in care but CAS workers often use this as an excuse to restrict you being able to call for help. If you are being given this excuse then purchase a phone card on a temporary basis and then use the phone card to make your long distance calls. Using a phone card will also leave no record with the foster/group home as to which numbers you were calling so you might find this helpful as well. If you cannot use the phone for long distance calls, then send Court Watch a letter and we will show you how to bring this to the attention of authorities. Again, do not abuse your phone card. Be respectful of the use of the phone by others at the foster/group home and keep your calls to reasonable times.
Does my Member of Parliament have right to speak to me while I am in foster/group home?
You have the right to request a meeting with your provincial and federal member of Parliament. In fact, if you feel that you are being mistreated while in foster/group home care or have been taken away from your parents for poor reasons, contacting your Member of Parliament may help you get out of foster/group home care sooner. To arrange a meeting all you have to do is call the office of the Member of Provincial or Federal Parliament. Members of Parliament do not like to hear complaints from children about how they are being mistreated at the expense of taxpayers who pay for what is done to them by children's aid agencies and their children's lawyers. This does not look good on the government. If you are not happy with the way in which you are being treated by a CAS agency or its workers, then you should make a list of all the things you have experienced while in care and to write your federal Member of Parliament (MP) and your provincial Member of Parliament (MPP) in both the riding your parent's home is located as well as the riding in which the CAS has placed you in care. Also copy your letter to Court Watch. You should also request to meet your MP or MPP in person and arrange to go to the meeting with someone you trust. If CAS workers or foster home workers tell you that they have to go with you, then they are lying. You have the right to your own private meeting with the MP or MPP.
You should also tell all your family members to make their own appointment and to see their own MP and MPP in their own riding. If enough children complain, the government will be forced to take steps to correct many of the injustices which are forced upon children by many CAS agencies and workers. If you make a request, Court Watch can even assist you or your family members to write a letter to your MPP and your MP. Court Watch is building a national database of children's complaints along with the names of the workers and lawyers involved for the purposes of helping children launch lawsuits against those responsible so your letters do help in the effort to make government funded agencies serve children better and to be more accountable.
How do I find out who is the Member of Parliament I should be contacting
To find the contact information for your members of Parliament, all you have to do is to find out the postal code of where you are living in care and the postal code of your parent's home. The Government of Canada has a website that you can go to to find out who your federal Member of Parliament is. The federal website is:
The Government of Ontario also has their own website that you can go to to find out who your provincial Member of Parliament is. The provincial website is:
I am in a foster home and had my personal recording device taken away from me by workers. What can I do?
You have the right to your personal property in a foster home or group home providing you do not abuse this right by using your recording device to violate the rights and privacy of others, so don't abuse your right to record for the purposes of protecting yourself. You have the right to record your own conversations with others for your own personal protection, including your conversations with CAS workers and/or foster/group home workers. As long as you record only your conversations you have this right to protect your security and to feel safe. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms this is referred to as the "Security of your Person" and under the Canadian Charter people cannot violate your security rights. If workers take your recorder from you and say they are going to keep it in a safe place, that may not be so unreasonable providing they reassure you that they will give it back to you whenever you wish to record any meeting with any CAS or foster home workers. If workers tell you that they will not give you your recording device to record meetings and that you can't have your recorder back, then they are violating your rights. In this case, tell the workers that you want their response given to you in writing and signed by a worker. Under no circumstances should foster home or group home workers be taking your personal belongings unless they can show you in writing that they have received instructions from CAS workers to that effect. Foster home parents, especially, have no special authority under the law to take away your personal belongings and you can sue the foster/group home workers personally for money if they do once you get out of foster care.
I you have had your tape recorder seized by workers and they won't give it back to you, then send Court Watch a secret letter advising us when your recording device was taken from you and who it was who took your recorder. Provide details surrounding the seizure of your personal property. We will also help you write a series of letters to bring attention to your plight, including letters to the police, the Ombudsman of Ontario, your friends at school, the Premier of Ontario and to other provincial Members of Parliament advising them how your personal property was seized from you and how you have been made to feel afraid by the actions of CAS workers. We will be posting sample letters on our website soon that you can use to copy from. We can prepare your letters providing we receive instructions from you to do so and can even fax a letter on your behalf so that we can retain a fax receipt that the letter was received by the CAS worker. Be sure to copy your letters to Court Watch so that we can bring these to the attention of our elected provincial politicians and to parents in your community by way of a petition. We will also assist you to launch a lawsuit against those who were responsible once you get out of the foster/group home facility.
Are there places on the internet where I can go to get more help from others regarding the CAS?
There are a number of websites and e mail chat groups where you can ask questions and get answers about CAS, the children's lawyer office and the family courts. Most of the people on these discussion groups are parents and kids who have been affected by the court system at one time or another. Just like many of the members of Court Watch, many of these parents and support groups want to help other children avoid the pain and suffering that they endured when they went through the court system. We can direct you to some of these family support groups and even put you in touch with other children who have been victimized by the family court system, the children's lawyer or the CAS. You may even wish to post questions on the Court Watch public discussion board. You can make posts to our discussion board without identifying yourself, so you can remain completely anonymous on our discussion forum. Other parents and children will try to give you answers to your questions. You should never meet anyone in person that you don't know beforehand unless you have a trusted adult with you such as a parent or family member. This simple advice should apply to anyone you meet over the internet.
We would also suggest that you read legislation which governs how CAS agencies and workers are supposed to deal with your case. In Ontario, the legislation is called the Child and Family Services Act and is applicable to all CAS workers and agencies. You can check out this website http://184.108.40.206/DBLaws/Statutes/English/90c11_e.htm and read various sections of the Act which may apply to your situation. If the link above does not work, then do a Google search under "Child and Family Services Act Ontario" Other provinces have their own legislation similar to Ontario, so if you are outside of Ontario, then find out the various laws which govern child welfare protection agencies and their workers. You can help to make child protection workers accountable by demanding that workers do what the law says!
Should I keep a diary of things which happen to me and what I see while I am in foster care or a group home?
If you are in a foster/group home and feel that you should not have been placed in care, then it is advisable to keep a diary while you are in the foster/group home. You should write down important events such as meetings with workers and what was said at these meetings (it is even better to have your tape recorder at these meetings). If you are abused or witness abuse to any other children in care, then you should write this down in your diary as well. If you have access to a computer, you can write a journal on a floppy disk.
Be aware that kids report that their personal belongings are routinely searched at the foster/group home facility while they are at school so personal possessions such as diaries might be taken away from you and destroyed if the diary contains information which might make the CAS workers or the foster/group home look bad. Write your diary in private and keep it from being seen by anyone at the foster or group home. You can do your diary at school and give or mail your diary to someone outside of the foster or group home who will protect it from being taken away from you. If you have access to the internet, write your journal entries and e mail your notes to someone you trust for safe keeping. You can even e mail your electronic diary to Court Watch on a daily or weekly basis if you wish and we will safely save your e mails for future reference when you get out of care.
A diary can assist tremendously in helping to convince a court that your rights and freedoms were violated while you were in care. You can take those responsible for abusing you to court, even years after the abuses occurred.
The CAS are taking me to a psychologist without my consent and he/she is asking me a bunch of questions? What is this about?
Children's Aid workers will sometimes send you to a psychologist for what is called a psychological evaluation without telling you what this is about. In many cases, CAS workers will take you to a psychologist that they know and who will often report what the CAS want the psychologist to say in a report. In many cases, the psychologist will give a report which will make your parents look bad and support why the CAS had to take you out of your home. If CAS workers are trying to restrict your access to a phone, your parents or others you trust, it is quite likely that CAS workers are trying to get a report from the psychologist which will allow them to be even harsher with you.
If CAS workers take you to any doctor or professional you have the right to be told why you are being taken to see that person. If you are not being told, then ask the person's name and ask the reason why you are being taken there. Demand that any meeting with the psychologist be recorded so that there will be a complete record of what questions the psychologist asked you as well as the answers you provided. Again, if the CAS workers and/or the psychologist refuse to allow you to record your meeting with them, chances are that they are up to no good and may lie to the court about what you say to them. If you have been forced to see a psychologist against your wishes and if CAS and/or the psychologist refused to allow you to record the meeting, then secretly send a letter out to Court Watch and we will help you to inform authorities and to notify people in the government who want to hear about these things. Be sure to advise us of the name of the psychologist who you are being forced to see and where his/her office is located. We will have a public meeting to discuss the conduct of this person and put that person's name on our family abuse registry list if they do not agree to be accountable.
CAS workers cut off my visits with my parent(s) and family members but did not give me a good answer why they did this. What should I do?
You have the rights to be informed as to why your visits with your parents or with other family members are being restricted and you have the right to have this reason given to you in writing. In most cases, CAS workers just advise you of this without giving you anything in writing. CAS workers know that violating your rights to a relationship with your parents can be grounds for a lawsuit as well, so they try to keep this off the record by keeping telling you this verbally. You can start to fight back by demanding that CAS workers give you answers in writing and it starts with you arranging to have a letter sent out by yourself or your advocate to the CAS asking them to explain their actions. We will be posting a sample letter for children to send to the CAS. It is good to copy your letter to Court Watch to let the CAS know that your case is being watched by outside people. Canada Court Watch also has a form on its website for children 17 years of age and under that can be filled out over the internet.
I am not happy in the foster/group home and am thinking of running away. Should I run away?
Unless you are being physically, emotionally or sexually abused or mistreated by workers or other residents while in care, generally it is not a good idea to run away without very careful planning and for good reason. Proper planning includes having help from a trusted person(s) and being able to go to somewhere where you are safe. You should NEVER run and live on the streets. Some children have been abused even worse when they have tried to live on the streets and some have even been raped or murdered. Before running away, you should try to resolve issues through all reasonable methods. Running away should be used as a last resort after all other efforts to resolve the problem have been exhausted.
CAS have the police at their disposal so it is not likely that you can hide out for very long. It is also not a good idea to miss school. If you run away, this will allow the CAS to justify that you are a troublemaker and that they must keep you in care. If you run away a number of times, CAS workers may obtain a court Order to have you put into what is referred to as a "secure" foster/group home in which there are alarms and doors and windows are locked. Also, if you get caught breaking the law while in the care of the CAS, just like an adult, they can get an order to lock you up. You should never break the law.
There is an old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword and this applies to children who are in foster/group home care. It is almost impossible for workers to prevent you from sneaking letters out of the facility to your Member of Parliament or to organizations such as Court Watch. You have the right to a meeting with your Member of Parliament so foster/group homes workers cannot stop you from getting your story out to your Member of Parliament. Getting information about how you and others in foster/group home are being treated out to those on the outside can sometimes be the most damaging to those CAS agencies and workers who are abusing their power. The harder the CAS workers try to control you and restrict your rights and/or punish you, the more money it will cost them and the stronger will be your case for a lawsuit against them when you do eventually get out. Don't forget that in some provinces (such as Ontario) there is a child advocate's office. Be sure to call them and to write to them about your problem and send a copy of your letter to someone you trust.
As the saying goes, the truth will eventually set you free. Tell the other kids in the foster/group home facility to do the same as you and to report what they see and how they are being treated. Get this information outside of CAS to places you trust. Send letters in private, send e mails or send tape recordings out of the facility where you are being kept. Exchange family contact information with the other children in care so in the event that you get separated from some of the other kids in the foster/group home, you will be able to contact them or their families at a later date. If other children have had similar bad experiences as you at the same CAS foster home or group home, you may be able to join in with them in what is called a "class action" lawsuit which can get you a lot of money if you were legitimately abused while in care. You must be able to contact the other children in order for this to be most effective.
I was taken away from one of my parents when I was younger and made to believe by CAS workers that I could not see this parent anymore. I think what CAS workers did was wrong and I want to see that parent now. What can I do to see this parent.
Some children have reported being taken away from one of their parents when they were younger and were either brainwashed or told by CAS workers that they would be punished if they tried to see that parent. Sometimes this happens when CAS are involved in a custody or access dispute between the parents and the CAS takes sides with one parent. Now that the children are older, they are now beginning to realize that what CAS workers did may have been wrong.
If you are one of those children who have had your relationship terminated as a result of the action s of CAS workers, then contact Canada Court Watch. We will assist you to get the truth out and if an investigation of the circumstances surrounding your case reveals that your relationship with your parent was terminated without just cause, we will help you to launch a lawsuit against the CAS agency and the workers responsible.
What is the quickest way to get out of a foster/group home?
Most children in a CAS foster/group home are there because of claims against the parents that the parents cannot provide a proper environment for your care. If there are some valid concerns about your parent's ability to provide a proper environment for you, it may take your parents a while to gain your release. However, the laws requires that CAS agencies must consider placing you with other family members or friends in the community before forcing you in care of the CAS. If your parents can provide a plan to the CAS which involved placing you in a safe environment with friends and family in the community, then CAS must move quickly to see if it is possible to place you in the place proposed by your parents. You can even stay at a friend's house providing you can show this to be a suitable place to stay. Any plan to place you with family and friends must be made in writing with the CAS as quickly as possible.
If part of the reason why you are still in a foster/group home is because CAS workers are making things difficult for your parents and your lawyer (if you have one) does not seem to be doing his/her job to help you get out of care, then it may also be helpful for you to make sure that you get your wishes and preferences before the court. You must begin to complain and start demanding your rights. You should consider having an outside advocate conduct a videotaped interview of you to give to the judge in court as part of the court record. In your videotape, you may wish to tell the judge your wishes and preferences and how you have been treated by the CAS and/or your children's lawyer while you were in care. In most cases, CAS workers try to keep kids out of the court so that the children will not be able to witness what is being said. A videotaped interview will ensure that you are heard.
I am being told by CAS workers that I can't speak about court matters involving my parents or myself but I want to know. What can I do?
CAS workers will often tell you that you are not supposed to speak about your court matters and that you should not speak to your parents or answer any questions they might have. CAS workers will tell your parents and persons you trust the same thing. CAS workers do this to try to keep you in the dark and uniformed so that you won't know the truth of what is happening to you or what they are doing in court against you or your parents. By keeping you uninformed and keeping you from speaking to your parents, the CAS makes it difficult for you or your parents to get the truth out to the court so that the judge will really know what CAS workers are doing to you or your family. This also gives the CAS workers the opportunity to tell you and your parents lies. For example, the workers may tell you that your parents want you in foster care when this is a lie. Of course you have no way of finding about because you can't ask your parents because you are not allowed to talk about court matters. In the same way, CAS workers can lie to your parents.
You have the right to ask question and to have your questions answered. You have the right to ask questions of your parents about your court matters. No one can tell you that you can't ask questions. If the CAS workers tell you that you can't ask questions and that you cannot speak freely with your parents about matters which affect you, then they are violating your rights. Be sure to keep a record in your journal of who said this to you and when. Generally, CAS workers will deny telling you this when asked, so ask the CAS workers to give this to you in writing. If they don't give this to you in writing then you have a letter written to them by an advocate asking the CAS to give you a letter stating what you are not allowed to talk about and why.
You can take legal action against those who violated your rights while in foster/group home care Court Watch will also help you report this to Members of Parliament and the Ombudsman's Office.
If the CAS feel that your parent's might say inappropriate things to you, it would be reasonable for CAS to ask you to record your meeting with those who you feel at risk with. If you are speaking about appropriate matters which concern you, there should be nothing that you or your parents would be afraid to have recorded. So if the CAS workers say that they want to record your meetings with your parents, agree to this, but tell the CAS workers that you want all meeting between you and them recorded as well.
Can I receive and sent out letters while in a foster/group home?
You have the right to mail out letters and to receive letters while you are in a foster/group home. Some of this is contained in section 103 of the Child and Family Services Act. Communicating by letter is sometimes a good way to get information out to others if you find that your access to a phone or computer is being restricted by workers to prevent you from communicating with others. It is highly likely that any mail coming in to the foster/group home will be intercepted and read by worker so those who write letters to you should be aware of this.
Many children report being afraid of being punished by CAS workers or foster/group workers if they report on things being done to them by workers or done to other children. If you have things to say or questions you want to ask but are afraid of CAS workers knowing about this, then you should prepare your letters secretly and mail them by yourself when you are outside of the foster/group home. Be sure to date and to sign your letters so that people who receive your letters will know that your letter is not a fake. Sent your letters to those you trust, including Court Watch.
You should also write in your diary, when and to whom you sent and received mail from. If it can be found that your mail was being intercepted and not given to you, then workers may have broken the law and you may be able to can have them charged for interfering with your mail once you get out of the foster/group home.
I have reported being abused by my parent to the CAS workers, but nobody does anything about it. It seems if if the CAS workers are trying to protect my abusive parent and are trying to pretend the abuse never happened? What can I do to get them to listen and to do something?
It is often very difficult for children to get CAS workers to listen to them. Quite often, the workers have already come to their own conclusions and have taken sides against one or both of your parents. It is not uncommon for CAS workers to support the parent who is abusing you.
One thing you can do is to demand that you tape record your meetings with them. Get a recorder and take it with you into every meeting when CAS workers meet with you. Ask that the workers videotape your meeting with them. This will make most workers very nervous but will likely result in them listening much more carefully and doing something to help you. If CAS workers try to tell you that you can't take record them in meetings, then follow the section on how to fight for your rights to record your meetings (to be posted soon).
Another thing you can do is to request that you be allowed to have someone you trust be with you at all meetings and to have this person take notes. Tell the CAS workers that you will not give them any information unless they either allow you to record all meetings or you allow someone you trust to be with you. Even then, tape recording is still the best evidence.
You may also consider giving a private interview to a third party child advocate who will take down your information and assist you to have something done. If possible, have the advocate professionally interview you by videotape. Getting your information down on videotape will help other to help you in case CAS workers try to prevent you you from saying things to those outside of the CAS.
If you are abused after you have told CAS workers and they do nothing to help, providing you can show that you tried to get them to do something, you can take the worker and the CAS agency they work for to court to make them pay you for damages done to you as a result of the CAS workers failing to take action.
I have been adopted to a family by the CAS a few years ago but I never really wanted to be adopted. I feel that I was coerced by workers to be adopted and signed papers when I really did not want to sign. What can I do?
If you feel that you were coerced or bribed into signing papers which allowed you to be adopted, then you have the right to sue the CAS workers at the CAS agency itself. Even if the CAS workers no longer work with the CAS, you can force them into court and to have them testify about the circumstances surrounding your adoption. You have the right to seek financial damages from those responsible even years after you were adopted out. You should contact a child advocate or a lawyer who is not connected to the CAS to file your case for court.
I am being abused at the CAS foster home and some of the other kids are being abused too. I tell my CAS worker but nobody does anything. We are afraid. What can I do?
If abuse is going on in a group home or foster home setting, it is highly likely that the CAS workers will try to hide this so that they do not attract bad publicity. If you report abuse you may be ignored or in some cases shipped off to another group or foster home so that you will not see anything any more. If you are being abused or witness abuse and nobody seems to be doing anything about it, then speak privately to the other kids as well. Get their names and ask them about what they have seen while they have been in care of the CAS. Get a contact phone number from each of the other children such as a parent or family member and agree with the other kids as to how to contact them should the CAS try to separate the children and put them in different homes The testimony from these other children may be helpful later should a lawsuit be launched against those responsible for the abuse and for those CAS workers who did nothing after being told about it.
Sneak a tape recorder into the foster home or group home and begin to record what is going on inside whenever there is abuse. Tell the other kids to do the same. Try to capture the abuse on your recording device. There are many small recording devices on the market today which will record voices for long periods of time.
Although it is illegal to record conversations between other people where you are not part of the conversation, it is highly unlikely that police or any other official is going to say anything about this if your purpose was to help protect yourself or other children by exposing abuse at the foster or group home facility. You should resort to secret recordings only when you see abuse in the foster/group home facility and workers seem to be doing nothing about it. Also remember to keep your recorder with you at all times and arrange to have the recorder downloaded to a disk or the tape taken and to have the recordings stored somewhere away from the CAS facility. Many children in care have reported CAS workers or foster parents search through their belongings and take personal belongings while they were at school during the day.
There is a case review meeting involving CAS worker coming up soon and I am being told that nobody except CAS workers can come to the meeting. I want to have someone I trust come to the meeting to support me. What can I do?
You have the right to have any person you trust and feel comfortable attend your meeting with you as a support person. Honest and caring CAS workers will support your requests to have a support person come to meetings to be with you. Honest and caring CAS workers will welcome from any reasonable person. CAS workers who are not trustworthy will tell you that you are not allowed a support person of your choice. These workers do not want you to have person you trust with you because it makes it difficult for them to lie about what was discussed at the meeting.
If you want a particular person to attend your case review meetings with you then you must inform your CAS worker and your lawyer (if you have one) that you wish this person to attend meetings as a support person. If your worker says no, then you must send a letter to your worker advising him/her in writing of your request for a support person to be present. Send a copy to your support person. An e mail message should be fine as well. You should ask the CAS workers to respond to your letter in writing. You should also contact Court Watch and we will help you to bring your problem to the attention of the Members of Parliament. It does not look good on the CAS workers for them to be denying a child the simple request of having a support person attend meetings with them.
A warrant was issued for the police to apprehend me at the request of the CAS for reasons which are not true. I am hiding from police and the CAS right now. What can I do?
When a warrant for your apprehension has been obtained, it is likely that the police will at some point find out where you are and get you. There really is not much sense in hiding out. Hiding from the police will support the claims of the CAS that your parent(s) are not acting in your best interest which will only further justify why the CAS should be apprehending you. For example, it is not in your best interest to be out of school. In addition, your parent(s) could be found in contempt of court, if they are caught hiding you or concealing your whereabouts when a warrant has been issued for your apprehension.
If the allegations made against one or both of your parents or caregivers by the CAS are true, then you would be best to obey the warrant as soon as possible and turn yourself in to the CAS, especially if you are missing school. You should not be in an environment which is not in your best interest. Hiding from the law and being a fugitive is not in your best interest. If on the other hand, allegations against your parent(s) or caregiver are not true and you know it, then you can take some steps to fight back using the truth as your weapon. If you know that the CAS are wrong, then fight them face on using the truth. Again, obeying a court Order is generally the best way to go.
Remember too that quite often, court hearings to obtain child apprehension warrants are done without the knowledge of the parents or the children. These hearings are often done in front of a Justice of the Peace behind closed doors with only the CAS giving information to the judge. Some of the parents and children affected have told Court Watch that false and misleading information was given to the Justice of the Peace by child protection workers in order to get the apprehension warrant they want. So don't forget that Justices of the Peace issue apprehension warrant based on the information before them. If you feel that false allegations have been used to mislead the court into giving child protection workers an apprehension warrant then you can take steps to correct this miscarriage of justice. Some of the things you can do include:
If you have run away and are in hiding because you were being abused while in CAS care then you should call police and tell them that you will turn yourself in but you want it on the record that the reason why you have been hiding out from the CAS workers is because you have been abused by them. You should tell police about the abuses you have been subjected to while in care of the CAS. Tell police that you will turn yourself in providing they give their reassurance to you that you will not be taken back to the same CAS foster/group home where you were being abused. It would be good to record this conversation and to give the recording of this conversation to someone you trust before you turn yourself in.
Remember, very little can be gained by hiding out and violating an apprehension warrant. In most cases, the CAS have more to be afraid of than you so you can likely accomplish more by fighting for your rights and freedom from within the system than from the outside as a fugitive. It makes CAS workers nervous to have children in care who are literally watching and reporting on every thing that workers do wrong while they are in care. Although there are some good workers and good foster/group home facilities, their are very few. Armed with the knowledge gained from this website and from better understanding the law, chances are that you will likely be able to expose more abuses while you are in care. CAS workers try to keep things secret and are scared of kids who know too much.
The CAS are asking that I sign papers concerning me being kept in foster care or a group home. Workers tell me these are just routine procedures. Should I sign them or not?
In Ontario, children over the age of 12 are usually required to provide their consent to the CAS for some services. CAS workers will often mislead children by telling them them that these forms are standard things and have to do with your dental and health care. They will usually ask you to sign these papers without allowing you the opportunity to have someone you trust advise you on what you are signing. Some of the forms may in fact be for health care and dental.
However, there are risks if you do sign these papers if you feel that you should not be in care. Signing any document that the CAS workers ask you to sign, generally indicates your consent to be in the care of the CAS. Why would anyone sign papers if they did not want to be in the care of the CAS?
If you do not want to be in the care of the CAS, then don't sign anything until someone you know and fully trust has advised you of what it is you are signing and what the implications are to you. When you sign anything that the CAS asks you to sign, this is usually taken as an indication that you consent to being in the care of the CAS. The CAS workers can then take these to court and tell the judge that you have given your consent to stay in their care. If you sign papers, when you really don't want to be in care then you also weaken your case for a lawsuit against the CAS worker who had you placed into care in the first place. To improve your success in a lawsuit against the CAS it is helpful to show that services were forced upon you against your wishes and preferences.
My Children's Aid worker is putting pressure on me to say that I want to live with my mother when I really want to live with my dad (or visa versa). What can I do?
Children's Aid workers should not be putting pressure on you to live with one parent or another if your parents are disputing custody of you. It is unprofessional and unethical for workers to take sides in your parent's dispute. Children's Aid workers should only be answering your questions honestly and asking you questions which they feel are relevant to your safety. Any questions they ask about one parent, they should ask the same question about the other parent and they should be writing down this information in their handwritten notes. If CAS workers appear to be putting pressure on you to take sides then you should write a letter to the worker to ensure that your wishes and preferences are clearly made known to workers. Fax this letter to the CAS workers so that you have a receipt of your letter being sent or have your letter faxed to the CAS offices by a third party. You should also file a formal complaint about the CAS worker who is putting pressure on you. Court Watch can assist you to write your letters upon request. It is important that Court Watch be informed of your complaint as Court Watch maintains a database of CAS workers who have been the subject of complaints from children for the purposes of a possible class action lawsuit against workers where there have been multiple complaints by children.
I was mistreated while in care of the CAS but this occurred a number of years ago. Can I still seek damages years after the abuse occurred?
If you have suffered damages as a result of abuse while being in the care of a CAS agency, you have the right to sue them for money, even if it was years ago that the abuse occurred. It is important that you have the names of those responsible. Former foster home workers and CAS workers can be forced to give testimony about your stay in CAS care years even years after the times when the incidents occurred. Some children who are now adults have reported suing foster workers and CAS workers many years later and quietly being paid out of court settlements for sometimes amounts in excess of $100,000.
My foster parents are asking questions about my matters involving my parents and other family members. I don't like having to answer their questions and feel that it is none of their business. What can I do?
A number of children have complained that foster home parents often ask intrusive questions about their family's matters or about their court matters which bothers many kids. Often CAS workers use foster home parents as spies to spy on the children and to get information from the children that CAS workers have difficulty obtaining. Some children have reported that foster home parents have lied about what the children have said or about what has happened to children in foster/group home care in order to help the CAS or to hide wrongdoings by CAS workers. You must remember that the CAS pay the foster/group home workers, so many workers often feel obligated to do what CAS workers tell them to do. However, there are some good foster parents who will stick to the job they are supposed to do of providing a home for the children and will not allow themselves to be dragged in to taking sides with the CAS.
Foster home workers should not be asking you questions about your court matters or about your family's matters or prodding you for information. Foster home workers should not be getting involved in your family's case nor should they be helping to gather information to use against either of your parents. The role of a foster parent is to provide a good home, food and transportation while you are in their care. Although it may be OK for a foster parent to report on things they observe, such as if you came back with bruises, the foster parent's role should be strictly one of providing care and not serving as a spy for the CAS and feeding back information which CAS may use against one or both of your parents. If you are having your foster home parent question you about your family's matters, you should tell them that you would like them to not ask you these things. If they persist, then send Court Watch a letter and we will show you how to make a complaint against the foster/group home parent. A lawsuit against those foster/group home parents who violate your privacy may also be something you may consider after you are out of care.
If you trust your foster home worker and want to tell him/her information then by all means speak to them. You have the right to speak to anyone you trust. The foster home parents should however, respect your right to privacy to any information you disclose to them. If they don't maintain your privacy and you find out that they are spying on your and reporting everything back to CAS, then let Court Watch know. The names of those foster homes parents will be placed on our family abuse registry and should we receive other calls from children indicating the same complaints then we will assist all those children affected to get compensated for damages. Court Watch may also send the foster parents a letter directly reminding them of their roles and responsibilities to you as foster parents.
I have heard that one way to get my story out so that CAS workers cannot twist what I am saying is to videotape myself telling my story. Can this be effective?
If you feel that you are not being listened to and that workers have not been truthful to you, then one thing you can do is to provide a videotaped statement which you can then distribute to various outside sources such as your Member of Parliament and those whom you have been cut off from speaking to. Court Watch can provide more information about how to videotape your story in a credible manner. Videotaping can provide a permanent and reliable record of your statement in the event that workers try to prevent you from communicating with those you trust. Videotaped testimony can also help in a lawsuit should you decide to launch a lawsuit against CAS workers or their agency.
I am being forced to take medication in the foster/group home and I don't want to take it because it makes me feel sick. What can I do?
Children in foster/group home care have reported being forced to take drugs such as Ritalin and Risperdol or they have witnessed other children being forced to take drugs. Some children have reported that they have been threatened with loss of their rights to see their parents if they don't take drugs being forced upon them by CAS workers. Some children report feeling sick and tired after taking the medication themselves or seeing other children in care act like zombies after being given prescription drugs. It is has been shown that workers with child protection agencies use prescription drugs to keep kids quite and to hide the real reasons why some children may be misbehaving. Some children in care say the reason why they misbehave is because they are being mistreated by workers or they are angry for being taken from good homes and nobody listening to them. Drugs are sometimes used as a means to get children to shut up and to do as they are told. Child protection agencies have doctors they work closely with and these doctors will in most cases prescribe drugs without asking very many questions as to why they are needed.
If you feel that you are being forced to take prescription drugs, then send Court Watch a letter telling us all about it. In your letter provide us with the name of the doctor if you know who is giving the prescription and the CAS workers involved as well as letting us know which drugs you are being given. Court Watch is maintaining a list of doctors and CAS agencies which children complain about.
I am being asked questions by CAS workers that I don't want to answer. Should I lie to them so that I do not have to answer their questions?
CAS workers may put pressure on you to answer questions. Usually CAS workers are trying to get information which they will then use against you and your parents. Your first protection from being pressured is to insist that you will not answer any questions unless your interview with the workers is recorded with a copy of the recording being given to someone you trust outside of the CAS. If your interview with CAS workers is being recorded, it will be difficult for CAS workers to give you leading questions or to put you under intensive pressure to answer questions because others will be able to review the recording to see how CAS workers questioned you. If CAS workers interview you in a professional manner, they should not be afraid of having your interview with them recorded.
Sometimes you may not want CAS workers to know certain information because maybe you are trying to protect yourself or someone else. For example, you may have been in hiding and want to protect the people who may have helped you hide from CAS. If CAS workers are asking you questions which you would feel uncomfortable answering, then you have the right to refuse to answer the question. You are best to answer with the phrase, " I do not wish to answer that question" and just don't answer the question. Always remember to NEVER LIE. It is always better to not answer a question than to lie to workers. One lie only leads to another lie. If CAS workers can show that you are a liar, then people will not believe you even when you try to tell them the truth. Always tell the truth about abuse or mistreatment by parents. The job of a CAS worker is to protect you or your siblings from abuse so if you have been abused, you must inform workers of this.
When I am with my children's lawyer, the CAS foster parent of the home I am living with sits in the meeting with my lawyer. I feel uncomfortable with this because there are things I don't like about my foster home and cannot speak freely to my lawyer when the foster parent is in the room. What can I do?
Your children's lawyer should have enough common sense to interview you alone and in private and should never have to be told to speak to you in private. If you are not being given the opportunity to freely talk to your lawyer alone then you should contact Court Watch and we will send out a letter to your lawyer and keep your name in confidence.
I am not happy with my children's lawyer. Can I fire him/her?
Technically, you should be able to fire your children's lawyer but for children this is not an easy thing to do because in most cases your children's lawyer is ordered by the court to represent the child and the child is normally given no say in that decision. For a child to fire his/ her court appointed lawyer would not look good on the lawyers or the courts, so most kids are usually told verbally that this is not possible to do. Unfortunately, many kids accept the "no" answer and don't ask again because they are afraid to speak up to demand their rights. If you are told you can't fire your lawyer, then you are being lied to. If you are willing to accept no for an answer then you will be stuck with the lawyer you have. However, if you are one of those kids who is willing to stand up and fight for your rights and to not let the adults intimidate you into backing down, then you can be successful in having your lawyer fired or at the very least made to properly represent you and to accurately present your wishes and preferences to the court.
If the lawyer does not do a proper job for you and you can show that the services of this lawyer were forced upon you contrary to your wishes, you have the grounds for disciplining the lawyer as well as the grounds to take the lawyer to court for money in the future. You may even get your children's lawyer disciplined and discredited in the community if you gather the right evidence to show that the lawyer failed to serve you. To be successful in a lawsuit against the lawyer, you must be willing to fight for your rights and to build the evidence to show that the lawyer did not represent you properly. (We will explain how to get this evidence in another section)
Although Canada Court Watch receives many complaints from a number of children about their lawyers lying in court and although there are a number of incompetent lawyers who just do a plain lousy job, you should remember that not all children's lawyers are incompetent or dishonest. If you find that you do not like your first children's lawyer for some legitimate reason then asking for a new lawyer to replace your current children's lawyer may be the simplest way to solve your problem. In all cases, however, you must have reasonable reasons for wanting to fire your lawyer, so you must begin by understanding what your lawyer should be and should not be doing in your case and how to collect the evidence to show that your lawyer has failed you.
How can I fire or change my children's lawyer?
The first thing you should do if you are not happy with the children's lawyer is to privately contact Canada Court Watch by e mail or by phone. If you call by phone, then be sure to call from somewhere where you feel safe so that you will not be overheard or recorded by someone who may not want you talking to others about your rights and freedoms such a hostile parent, or foster home/group home worker. One of the first things that those who are trying to silence you may try to do is to restrict your ability to contact outside help. They may put restrictions on you such as not allowing you to use the internet or to use the phone except when someone is listening to you.
Once you contact us, one of our volunteer workers will take down your information, including your reasons why you are not happy with your children's lawyer. We will usually ask you to write a letter to us in your own handwriting in which you will ask for our help and to explain why you are not happy with your children's lawyer. We can provide you with sample letters to show you what to say when you if you have difficulty with writing a letter. When you write your letter, be sure to keep it somewhere safe so that those who may be trying to silence you from speaking the truth will not know about your efforts to obtain outside help. For example, some kids in foster homes or group homes have reported that their personal belongings are often searched while they are at school. Write your letters at school and mail them from a mail box near your school or on your way home. Keep your letters with you at all times.
Once we have received your information and should we feel that you have a legitimate reason for firing your lawyer, we will assist you to write a letter for you to send by fax to the children's lawyer's office. If we feel that your lawyer may be encouraged to do a better job for you, then rather having you send in a letter to have the lawyer fired, we may help you send a letter to the lawyer, specifically telling the lawyer what it is that you want them to do. By law, a lawyer must do as his client instructs him/her to do. We can also advise the lawyer that you have asked our help and that we will be monitoring them in your case. Hopefully, once your lawyer realizes that he/she is being monitored, they will do a competent job. If they continue to do a poor job or attempt to scare you into not having Court Watch help you, then the next step to fire them can be taken.
We will also help you to launch a lawsuit against the lawyer should he/she attempt to intimidate you or do anything that may cause your rights or freedoms to be violated. You can take your children's lawyer to court for misrepresenting you and you may be able to get lots of money in the future from them providing you have kept evidence (such as your letters) to show that your children's lawyer has failed to represent you. We may also be able to link you up with other children who have had similar complaints for a possible class action lawsuit against the Children's Lawyer's office, the lawyer and the law firm that the lawyer works for.
I would like to have someone be with me when I meet my children's lawyer. Can I have a support person I trust attend my meetings with the Children's lawyer?
You have the right to have a support person accompany you just as an adult has the right to take a person with him/her to see their lawyer. However, it would not be appropriate to have either of your parents or close family members be present Don't forget that the children's lawyer is supposed to be hearing your wishes and preferences without you being influenced by parents or close relatives who may have a vested personal interest in the outcome of your family's matters. Ideally, a person who is seen as being outside of your family would be the most suitable to attend meetings with you. You can even ask someone from Court Watch to attend if their is volunteer serving in your area.
In most cases, your children's lawyer will tell you that nobody is allowed into meetings and will try to tell you that meeting are supposed to be "private" between the lawyer and the child. Again, this is a bunch of crap. In most cases, the real reason why your lawyer may tell you no is because in many cases he/she does not want witnesses to what was is said during your meeting with the lawyer. If your lawyer tells you that you are not allowed to have a support person present, then this is one of the first signs that your children's lawyer is not likely a very competent or honest lawyer.
Some of the children's lawyers will actually lie to the court about what you said to them. For example, you may tell them that you want to live with one parent, but the lawyer will turn around behind your back and tell the court that you want to live with the parent you don't want to live with. If there is a witness at your meeting to back up that the lawyer has lied, then the lawyer could be disciplined for lying, Hiding the truth is usually why children's lawyers don't want you to have people you trust to be with you. Again, if you stand up for your rights and make lots of noise, you can get to have a support person be with you in meetings. Contact Court Watch and we will tell you how.
How can I make sure that my children's lawyer accurately tells the court what I say and what my wishes and preferences are?
The best way to see that your children's lawyer is doing what he/she is supposed to be doing in court is to go to court yourself. When you do go to court yourself, your children's lawyer is most likely going to tell the truth about what you have told him/her. The lawyer is not likely to lie when you are there in court to see for yourself.
In most cases, your children's lawyer will tell you that you are not to come in the courtroom because it is not allowed. By keeping you out of court, people in court can tell lies about you and you will not get to see who is lying about you. The only person who can keep you out of a court hearing is the judge and the judge has to state this himself/herself.
If for any reason you have been told you can't go to court by the judge, and there is not time to fight this issue, then you can instruct your children's lawyer that you want him/her to provide you with a copy of the transcripts so that you can read what everyone said in court. If your lawyer is not helping you to sit in the court, then the lawyer should be willing to obtain a copy of the transcripts for you. If your lawyer tells you that he/she cannot get you a copy of the transcripts then go to the section with deals with children's lawyers not giving you transcripts of the court hearing (to be added).
Another thing you can do to keep your children's lawyer accountable is to contact us for help and have Court Watch interview you on videotape. We will accurately record what your wishes and preferences are and if you wish us to, contact the lawyer to advise him/her that we have also interviewed you. The children's lawyer will not want to lie once we have interviewed you on videotape and have proof of what you want said to the court.
Can I record my telephone conversations with my children's lawyer and/or my workers with the CAS?Link to sample Question
If you feel the need to protect yourself, you have the right to tape record your conversations between yourself and others, including your lawyer and Children's Aid worker. You cannot however, tape record conversations between other people in which you are not part of the conversation. If you are in a group home or foster home you can take a recording device into the facility with you and hook it up each time you are on the phone or use it anytime that anyone comes to visit with you. You do not even have to tell the persons you are recording them providing you are part of the conversation. Suggestions for what equipment you can use and how to hook it up will be explained in a section to be added later to this site.
I believe that my children's lawyer is not telling the truth in the court and I don't trust what he/she is telling me about the court. What can I do?
The best way to ensure that your lawyer and other workers are telling the truth is to attend court and see for yourself what they are saying in court.Advise your children's lawyer that you want to go to court yourself. If for any reason, you are denied going to court then advise your children's lawyer, in writing, that you want a copy of the court transcripts for the day that court was held and you were not allowed to attend. When you get the transcripts you can read what everyone, including the lawyer, said in court that day. You have the right to know about matters which affect you. If you see lies in the transcripts then you should complaint in writing. Court Watch can assist you to make a formal complaint and show you how to get your information before the court.
I am being told that I cannot go into the court but I want to go and see for myself. What can I do so that I can get to go to the court and see for myself what they are saying about me?
You have the right to go to court if you are mature enough. Your children's lawyer and CAS workers and even one of your parents may try to tell you that you don't want to go. In most cases, those who are trying to convince you not to go are those who are trying to keep you from seeing the truth. In many cases, they are trying to keep you from seeing that it is they who are presenting lies to the court. When you show up to court, it is then very hard for them to lie to the judge because you are there to see for yourself. If you want to go to court, then insist and tell your lawyer that you want to go. It may also help for you to inform your lawyer in writing that you wish to attend court. If your requests are being ignored by your lawyer and by other authorities, then contact Court Watch and let us know the circumstances. We will help you to write the necessary complaint letters and to help you bring this to the attention of Members of Parliament.
How do I go about recording my meetings with my children's lawyer?
Simply take a recording device with you to the meetings with your children's lawyer. You can put a recording device right on the lawyer's desk while you meet with him/her and advise the lawyer that you want the meeting recorded. Your lawyer may tell you that you can't do that and may tell you that he/she will not meet with you if you record the meeting. If the lawyer is honest and trustworthy, the lawyer should permit you to record your meetings, and if the lawyer does not, he/she is likely not trustworthy.
Alternately, you can hide the recording device on your body and record your conversation without the lawyer knowing about it. Hiding a recording device and secretly tape recording your lawyer would be recommended where you are certain that your lawyer has lied about things in the past. If your lawyer is being honest with you, recording will not achieve anything, but if your lawyer is not being truthful, you may very well be able to gather valuable evidence necessary to discipline and even sue the lawyer for money later on.
I am having a lot of trouble reaching my children's lawyer and he/she takes a long time to call me back. What can I do?
Many children have reported to Court Watch that their children's lawyer never calls them back for sometimes days or even weeks at a time. If you are having problems getting your calls returned, then make a record in your diary of the date and time you called your children's lawyer. Give your lawyer a couple of days to call you back. If you have not heard back after a couple of days, then call again. If it is taking any more than about a week to get your called returned then you should send in a complaint letter to the lawyer first. If the problem persists after that then you should sent out a complaint letter to the provincial government which generally funds the children's lawyer's office. Court Watch can help you write the letter and if you are really upset, show you how to get your letter out to various members of the Provincial and Federal Parliaments.
My children's lawyer is putting pressure on me to take sides in my parents court matter. What can I do?
Your children's lawyer is supposed to be neutral between your parents in any court dispute. The purpose of your children's lawyer is not to try to convince you as to which parent you should live with but only to advise the court of your wishes and preferences and in some cases to present a report to the court which may make recommendations as to what the writer of this report feels is best for you. Your children's lawyer is obligated to act in your best legal interests and to follow your reasonable instructions such as argue to have you appear in court or to present an affidavit to the court on your behalf.
If your children's lawyer is putting pressure on you to take sides and you feel this is not right, then send a letter to Court Watch. We will assist your to write the necessary complaint letters to make other prominent person aware of what your lawyer is doing to you, including assisting you to file a complaint with the law society. Court Watch maintains a private database of lawyer's complaints so your complaint letter will help us to forewarn other children and parents or to help those affected launch what is called a class action lawsuit against that lawyer should enough complaints be received about a particular lawyer.
I feel that my children's lawyer seems to want to help one of my parents more than the other. What can I do?
Your children's lawyer is supposed to be neutral between your parents and to just ensure that your legal rights are protected. This includes giving you advice and recording your wishes and preferences for the court. If you get the impression that your children's lawyer is acting as if he/she is helping one parent more than the other when this is not what you want, then contact Court Watch and we will help you to write an official compliant and help you have it filed with the appropriate parties who will review your complaint. As the children's lawyer's office received funding from the provincial government, we can also help you to approach your local Provincial Member of Parliament so that you can complain to them as well. You may even want to fire your lawyer and we can help you do this as well.
When I am with my children's lawyer, my parent who I do not trust comes into the room and sits. What can I do?
Your children's lawyer should have enough common sense to interview you alone and in private and should never have to be told to speak to you in private. If you are not being given the opportunity to freely talk to your lawyer alone then you should contact Court Watch and we will send out a letter to your lawyer but keep your name in confidence so that your lawyer will not know that it was you who complained. All children's lawyers should be speaking to their clients in private an allowing only persons who you wish to be with you to attend any meeting.
Don't Trust Your Children's Lawyer?
Many children complain about how their children's lawyer is not helping them and in some cases actually working against them. This brochure is for children who are not happy with the services provided by their children's lawyer and want someone else to represent them in court. The brochure advertises advocacy services some of which may be provided by the Family Justice Review Committee. The FJRC can provide a referral and/or assistance to help your child disclose on videotape how he/she has felt let down by this government agency and to have the child be represented by someone who will ensure that their wishes and preferences are accurately brought before the court. The FJRC will also provide information to your child about launching a lawsuit against those lawyers, social workers, law firms and individuals with these agencies who acted contrary to the child's best interest.
One of my parents has forced me to move with them to another community against my wishes and I want to live back in my old community with my other parent. What can I do?
Being forced to move from your friends and community can be one of the upsetting events in your life. If you feel that you have been forced to move by your custodial parent and feel that the move has not been in your best interest and you want to move back to your old community then there are things that you can do. You should read the document "Do I have a choice" [link to document] which is posted on this website. This document should answer many questions relating to fighting for your rights to move back with your other parent.
I want to speak to the judge myself at the court. How can I do this?
There is no law that says you can't speak to a judge, and the judge can easily grant you permission to speak to him. You have the right to ask to speak to the judge in the court but very rarely will you be granted the opportunity to actually speak to the judges. Unfortunately, the lawyers and judges do not want most kids to speak directly to the judge. If you want to speak to the judge then you must tell your lawyer to make this request on your behalf.
I want to go to my court to see what they are saying about me but I am being told that I can't go or I am being told that court is too scary for me. I still want to go to see for myself. What can I do to go to court?
Children's Aid Society workers and your children's lawyer may tell you that you cannot come to court. Some kids have reported to Court Watch that workers have told them that the court is too scary for them. Although going to court can be strange, many parents would agree that it is a good learning experience for mature children to experience. In many cases, workers don't want children to witness their cases in court because they don't want the children to witness many of the lies which are often told to the judge. Many workers do not want children to see them lie to the judge because in most cases, the children know the truth. All mature children should attend court to make sure that lies are not told by CAS workers or children's lawyers.
If you want to attend court, you should first ask workers or your lawyer that you wish to attend court. If CAS workers or your lawyer will not answer your question, then keep asking them until they do. Give them the opportunity to respond to you. If they still won't answer your question after asking them, then write them a letter clearing telling them that it is your wish to attend court. Court Watch can help you with your letter.
Link to sample letter (to be posted soon)
I'm fed up with the court system and want to write a letter to the Judge myself to let him/her know how I feel. Can I do this?
Yes, there is nothing that prevents you from writing a letter to the judge if you want although the letter will likely be returned to you opened with a letter from one of the court secretaries saying that the judge was not allowed to read it. Chances are the judge will read the letter but if the letter says bad things about the judge or the system, the court workers will pretend that the judge did not read it. Those in the court system want to discourage bad publicity about the court system, especially by children. However, if you feel like you want to let your feelings be known, then write the letter anyway. Let those in the court system know how you really feel! You should copy your letter to Court Watch and also to Members of Parliament, both provincially and federally.
I am the subject of a child protection court matter and want to read the court papers relating to me but my lawyer will not let me read them or tells me that I am not allowed to read them. What can I do?
In most cases, lawyers and child protection workers do not want children who are involved in a child protection matter to see the court papers. Quite often the court papers contain lies and exaggerations from child protection workers which the workers and the lawyers want to keep hidden from the children. If you feel that you are mature enough to read and understand the court papers then you should ask your lawyer for a copy of them and demand that you be allowed to see them. If your lawyer refuses to comply with your request, then you should file a complaint to the Law Society of the Province which the lawyer is a member and send a copy of your letter to Court Watch. If you need help, Court Watch will even help you write the letter. Lawyers are under an obligation as a lawyer to work in accordance to your instructions providing your instructions are lawful and reasonable.
I feel mistreated by CAS workers and/or my children's lawyer. Can I take my lawyer or the CAS workers to court for money for them abusing my rights and freedoms?
You can sue CAS workers as well as workers with the Office of the Children's Lawyer for money providing you have the evidence to show that your rights were abused as a result of their incompetence or outright malicious actions. You can sue a worker even years after the fact, even after the worker has moved into another job. It is important however that you document everything and gather as much evidence as outlined in this question and answer section. It is important that your parents or other family friends also do their best to gather as much information as possible during the time that your rights and freedoms were being violated. Covertly recording conversations of workers who abuse your rights can be invaluable in uncovering the wrongdoings of CAS and OCL workers.
What is a "class action" lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit where a number of people who have all been abused join together into one lawsuit against persons or agencies who have caused harm to all of them. Class action lawsuits can be important in situations where a number of children experienced the same abuse at the hands of CAS workers or agencies or with their children's lawyers etc. This is why it is important for you to obtain the names and contact information of other children being affected so that you can contact them about a joint class action lawsuit.
I got into a minor dispute with one of my parents which resulted in one of my parents being arrested and charged for assaulting me. My parent was ordered out of the home. I feel that this whole incident was blown out of proportion and the way in which the police and the Crown Attorney is handing the case is causing harm to my family. I believe that making my parent leave the home over this minor incident is not right. I want my parent to come back home. What can I do?
A number of children have reported being involved in an argument with a parent and that during the argument, may have been hit or slapped by their parent. Even though the incident was minor and no physical harm done, the incident has resulted in the police laying charges and removing one of the parent from the home (usually the father). Often the Children's Aid Society gets involved and starts spying on the family and creating all kinds of difficulty for the parent who still is in the home with the child. The CAS will often work very hard to keep the family split up and to create hardship for the family.
The authorities will generally want you to remain silent because they don't want the public to know what your feelings are and don't want the public to know about the harm that the actions of the police, the Crown Attorney and the police are doing to your family. The Crown Attorney's office generally just wants to get a conviction against the parent who has been charged (usually the father). The Children's Aid Society will intrude and supervise your family for months claiming that they are trying to "protect you". Often the CAS will attempt to get your parents to divorce and in some cases intimidate your parents by threatening them that if they don't permanently separate and break up your family that they will take you and other children from the home.
If you believe that the Police, the Crown Attorney's office or Child Welfare Protection workers have acted in a manner which you feel has in any way coerced you to give evidence against one of your parents which you did not want to give, or if you feel that the actions of authorities have violated your sense of security and have adversely affected your family, or if you feel that it would be emotionally harmful to you to testify in court, then you can take action to fight back against this injustice against your family.
If you feel that actions of authorities have been wrong, then you should start off by contacting your Member of Parliament and arranging a meeting to complain. You must also send a letter to your Members of Provincial and Federal Parliament. Members of Parliament are the ones who make the laws which govern how the police and the CAS respond in family matters. Your input as a child can help change the laws to make them better and less harmful to children and families. Court Watch can help you to write your letter and to show you how to distribute it to various members of Parliament, both federally and provincially. You can do this without any help or input from your parents and we will show you how.
If you wish, we can conduct a videotape interview in which you can give a statement about your feelings and how the actions of authorities have impacted you and your family. Once you have been videotaped, you can distribute this tape to whoever you choose so that they will know how the actions of authorities have affected you. Your videotape can only deal with the issues of how you have been affected and not discuss details of what would be considered as "evidence" in the case against your parent such as the details of the assault. Members of Parliament cannot get involved in the details of personal cases but can get involved by being kept informed as to how the application of of current laws and procedures are affecting children and families in the community.
You can write a letter to the Crown Attorney asking that charges against your parent be dropped. The Crown Attorney does have the ability to drop charges if carrying on with charges is not seen as being in the public's interest. Court Watch can assist you to write a letter if you make this request to us.
If on the other hand, you feel that the actions of the authorities were justified and in your best interests, then you should support the actions of authorities by providing truthful and reliable information upon request.
The police seem to take sides and told me that I must live with my one parent and to do as that parent tells me to do. Should the police be telling me this?
A number of children report being disappointed in the way in which police officers deal with incidents involving their parents which a number of children reporting that they got the feeling that the police were supporting one parent who in many cases was an abusive parent.
The police are not supposed to be taking sides with either of your parents. They should appear to be neutral and fair. The police should be only enforcing the law and keeping the peace. They should not be telling you what to do or which parent you should take sides with or which parent you should live with. It is up to the court to decide these matters after considering all relevant information. If you find that police seems to be taking sides with one parent or another, then contact Court Watch and we will notify the police of your concern. If you are currently living with an abusive and controlling parent and are afraid to complain, then if you wish, we can also help you to make a complaint at some time in the future, when you feel safe enough to complain.
To lie or to tell the truth?
Is it OK to lie or not tell the truth sometimes?
As a general rule, adults and children should always tell the truth. Not telling the truth in matters affecting your family can make you look like a liar and can hurt or destroy other people's lives, especially if lies are told to officials involved with the court system such as child protection workers or children's lawyers. Unfortunately, in too many cases, parents, lawyers (including children's lawyers) and child protection workers lie about things in court so that they can get what they want in court by deceiving the court. Often these lies hurt children and their families.
As a general rule, telling the truth will help to ensure that justice prevails and that nobody gets hurt. However, as with most rules, there can be exceptions to the rule and times in your life when you may have to not be truthful about certain things.
If you ever are in a situation where you feel you cannot be truthful then you must assure yourself that you not being truthful for a good and honourable reason. If you feel that you have to lie then you must ask the following questions:
About the only time that you should not be truthful is when you have a good, justifiyable reason for not being truthful.
Some examples where it would be OK not to tell the truth:
Examples of when you should tell not tell a lie.
If you feel that you must tell a lie but are not sure as to whether this is appropriate in that situation then you should speak to someone you really trust and to ask them for their opinion.
Never tell an untruth to a court or to a judge