CCAS statement on Toronto Child Abuse Case

We share in the profound sadness that many people are expressing about the two young people who suffered significant abuse at the hands of their caregivers, the subject of recent media coverage.  As many are aware, and has been made public by the media, the family was referred to our organization on several occasions. We know now, following disclosures made by the young people, that they experienced persistent abuse and neglect perpetrated by their parents that was not disclosed during our initial investigations.  We are deeply troubled by all that these young people must have endured.

We know it is hard to understand how we could have been involved in a situation yet weren’t able to detect what was really going on.  All child welfare professionals have the persistent worry and dread of “did we miss something”, knowing that despite our best efforts it can happen, yet also deeply understanding the consequences of when it does.  So, while we stand behind our decision-making processes and the work that happened with this family, we know no words or justification no matter how true, can undo or reduce the harm being felt by these youth. 

We want to reassure the community that we responded to every referral about this family and met all of the child protection standards, resulting in several thorough investigations.  During these investigations we sought out multiple points of view, including medical professionals and school personnel, and reviewed and revised our assessments as new information came in. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we just did not have the information we have now to have acted differently then.

Following the disclosures made by the boys, we also used our agency’s Service Reflection process to review our original work with the family for the purposes of learning and improvement.  The results of this reflection process concluded that the decisions made by CCAS staff were based on the best information available at the time of the investigations and sound processes.  This conclusion does not diminish the impact of the abuse for the boys, for their loved ones, and for our staff who were involved in service to this family. We are all shocked and distressed by what occurred.

As a child welfare organization, we welcome all consultations and referrals regarding children, youth and families and we will continue to assess and respond accordingly.   We work diligently every day to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Catholic children and families, while also supporting families and communities to safely care for their children.  While this situation has rightly caused people to question us, and we will always be accountable for our decisions, we want to reassure the community we serve that you can be confident in the work we do.