The Office of the Chief Coroner has notified the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) of the results of a review by the Child and Youth Death Review and Analysis (CYDRA) unit and requested that the College respond to two of the recommendations. This eBulletin addresses the CYDRA’s recommendations by:
- Reminding registrants of their ongoing professional obligations to report child abuse and neglect and continually appraise risk to children;
- Emphasizing that registrants should review their duty to report on a regular basis, and at least biannually; and
- Encouraging registrants to use the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) to develop their practice knowledge and skills and remain current with emerging issues, policies, legislation, and community programs.
THE CYDRA REPORT
The CYDRA’s findings are published in the report Expert Review Concerning the Death of a Child (“CYDRA Report”), which cannot be released publicly. In a letter accompanying the CYDRA Report, the primary goal for the review is described as follows:
“The Office of the Chief Coroner (OCC) investigates deaths to determine the circumstances of death and, when indicated, provides recommendations to inform efforts to reduce further deaths. The Child and Youth Death Review and Analysis (CYDRA) unit at the OCC directly supports the development of effective recommendations for the prevention of further deaths of young persons in Ontario.
The goal of child and youth death review is to provide service-level, systemic, and structural recommendations aimed to prevent deaths, and to contribute to public safety and health by supporting recommendations that enhance the overall well-being of children, youth, their families, and communities.“
Recommendations 12 and 13 of the CYDRA Report request that the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and the Ontario College of Teachers to:
- Issue a practice directive reminding registrants of their enhanced duty to report child abuse and neglect.
- Ensure that registrants review training on their Duty to Report on a biannual basis.
REGISTRANTS’ PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS
To support the CYDRA’s recommendations, the College is emphasizing registrants’ obligation, in accordance with The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Handbook, Second Edition, 2008, to be familiar with legislation that applies to their practice. Principle II: Competence and Integrity, Interpretation 2.1.3 states that:
“College members maintain current knowledge of policies, legislation, programs and issues related to the community, its institutions and services in their areas of practice.“
THE DUTY TO REPORT
College registrants have an enhanced duty to report to a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) set out in Section 125 of the Child Youth and Family Services Act, 2017(CYFSA) if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is in need of protection. The duty to report is ongoing – registrants must make further reports to the CAS if there are additional reasonable grounds to suspect a child is in need of protection, even if the registrant has already made previous reports to the CAS with respect to the same child.
Because social workers and social service workers engage frequently (both directly and indirectly) with children who may be at risk of harm or in need of protection, they are in a unique position to recognize possible signs of child abuse and neglect. It is therefore imperative that social workers and social service workers be well-informed with respect to their duty to report under the CYFSA.
INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND CHILD ABUSE
The CYDRA Report identifies a number of themes which are relevant to registrants, particularly those who work with children. They include the following:
- Children have a right to be protected;
- Registrants have an obligation to continuously review and appraise risk to children;
- Registrants should conduct safety planning directly with children;
- Registrants should appraise risk in the context of post-separation conflict and coercive control; and
- Coercive control is a form of intimate partner violence (IPV); while exposure to IPV is not currently a legislated form of child abuse in Ontario, it is recognized that there are significant risks to child development as a result of experiencing IPV.
THE DUTY TO REPORT AND THE CONTINUING COMPETENCE PROGRAM
To ensure that they fully understand their professional obligations with respect to their duty to report and maintain current knowledge with respect to IPV and child neglect and abuse, registrants are reminded to:
- Review their duty to report on a regular basis, and at least biannually;
- Engage in an ongoing process of self-review and evaluation of their practice, particularly in relation to the duty to report, seeking consultation when required; and
- Use the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) to develop their practice knowledge and skills and remain current with emerging issues, policies, legislation, and community programs.
College registrants are encouraged to consult the following webpages and practice resources for more information:
- The Duty to Report under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017
- The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Handbook, Second Edition, 2008
- For information on risk assessments view the Domestic Violence Risk Assessment: Informing Safety Planning & Risk Management (Domestic Homicide Brief 2)
- For online training and resources visit the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative website http://cdhpi.ca/
- The Domestic Violence Death Review Committee risk factor descriptions.
For inquiries about the duty to report, please contact the Professional Practice Department at email@example.com