Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) have the exclusive mandate to provide child protection services in Ontario. We work to promote the best interest, protection and well-being of children. Every CAS in the province is responsible for a specific jurisdiction, and at times we work together to fulfill our mandate.
Your Personal Information
This notice of information practice describes how The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) collects, uses, discloses and retains your personal information.
Our records include personal information collected to provide services to you including: your date of birth, contact information, records of meetings with you and/or your family, the services you received, the programs you attended, details of your physical and mental health, medical, psychological or psychiatric reports, school information, financial information, employment history, allegations or finding of child maltreatment, court documentation, police interventions, criminal history, your views or opinions, the views and opinions of others about you and information about your race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, cultural or linguistic needs, and marital or family status.
We collect, use and share personal information to:
- Investigate allegations that children may be in need of protection and, where necessary, protect children;
- Assess, reduce or eliminate a risk of harm to a child or serious harm to other person or group of people;
- Provide services to children and their families for protecting children or for the prevention of circumstances requiring the protection of children;
- Provide care for children and supervise children under our supervision;
- Assess and approve homes for children who cannot remain with their families;
- Place children for adoption;
- Plan and manage services;
- Aid a law enforcement agency in an investigation;
- Seek consent (or consent of a substitute decision-maker) where appropriate;
- Receive payment or process, monitor, verify or reimburse claims for payment related to our mandate;
- Detect, monitor or prevent fraud or any unauthorized receipt of services or financial benefits;
- Provide appointment reminders;
- Conduct risk management, error management and quality improvement activities;
- Conduct service recipient surveying;
- Respond to or initiate legal proceedings;
- Conduct research (subject to certain rules);
- Compile statistics;
- Report to the government as required by law;
- Allow for the analysis, administration and management of the children’s aid system;
- Comply with legal and regulatory requirements; and
- Fulfill other purposes permitted or required by law.
In child protection cases, we collect information about children who may be at risk of harm or in need of our services, including the personal information of the child and important people in the child’s life. We collect this information from children, their families or indirectly from members of the community or other service providers.
We also collect personal information about caregivers and those who seek to provide care to children in need, such as foster parents, adoptive parents and members of a child’s extended family and/or community. We collect most of this information directly from those individuals.
Other Children’s Aid Societies
Information collected by one CAS may be provided to other CASs when the other CAS needs to know the information to provide child protection services.
Service providers are persons or organizations who assist in the delivery of services to children and families. We share only the information that is necessary for service providers to deliver and administer these services.
Other Third Parties
Sometimes, we receive requests for information from third parties such as the police, government agencies and people involved in court cases with our clients. We only give personal information about service recipients to third parties if:
- We have the individual’s consent;
- There is a court order, search warrant, or urgent demand for records requiring disclosure; or
- We are legally permitted or required to provide the information.
In some situations, we do not need consent to fulfill our primary role as a child protection agency, to protect children where we are required by law to collect, use and disclose personal information. For example, we do not need your permission to meet our child protection obligations or to share your personal information to keep you or someone else safe.
In other situations, you have the right to make your own information privacy decisions. When we require and ask for your permission, you may choose to say no. If you say yes, you may change your mind at any time. Once you say no, we will no longer share your information unless you say so. Your choice to say no may be subject to some legal limits.
In situations when you have a right to make your own information privacy decisions, you may make your decisions if you are capable. You may be capable of making some information privacy decisions and not others. If you are not capable – you will have a substitute decision-maker who will make your information decisions for you. The rules about who can act as a substitute decision-maker and what they have to do is also set out in law. For example, a substitute-decision maker can be a person named under the Health Care Consent Act, a guardian of the person or property, an attorney for personal care or property, a representative appointed by the Consent and Capacity Board, a spouse).
For children, there is no legal age when you become able to make your own decisions about your personal information. If you are capable, you can make your own decisions. However, if you are under the age of 16, there are some additional rules to know.
- If you are not capable, your parent (s) or other official guardian will make decisions for you as your substitute decision-maker.
- If you are capable, you will make your own decisions.
- If you are capable, your parent(s) or guardian will also be allowed to make some decision about your personal information service records. They will not be able to make decisions about any records regarding treatment or counselling to which you alone consented.
Retaining and Disposal of Information
The Child Protection Information Network (CPIN) is an information management system used by CASs across the province. This system is the primary tool for storing information needed by CASs to deliver services.
CPIN contains information about children and their families who receive child protection services. It also contains information about caregivers and their relations, as well as those who seek to provide care to children in need, such as foster parents, adoptive parents and members of a child’s extended family and/or community.
We also have some older paper case files that predate CPIN, as well as older electronic case files.
We keep the personal information collected because it might be necessary for future cases. We also keep the information because former service recipients may ask to see the records containing their personal information.
Your personal information must be kept private and secure. Everyone at the CASO is bound by confidentiality. We protect your information from loss or theft and ensure no one looks at your information or does something with it if they are not involved in providing services to you or allowed as part of their job. If there is a privacy breach, we will tell you (and we are required by law to tell you) and we will share with you what has been done to address the privacy breach.
Safeguards equally apply to what personal information we enter into CPIN and other electronic information systems, as well as paper, or electronic copies of records, reports, financial records, administrative notes, voice messages, text messages, and emails (including on laptops and cell phones) and any other ways personal information can be recorded.
Access and Correction
With limited exceptions, you have the right to access the personal information we hold about you that relates to a service provided to you.
If you need a copy of your service records, please fill out an access to information and disclosure request form found on our website.
In rare situations, you may be denied access to some or all of your personal information regarding your service (with any such denial being in accordance with the law).
We try to keep your personal information accurate and up-to-date. Please let us know if you disagree with what is recorded, and we will make the change or otherwise we will ask you to write a statement of disagreement and we will attach that statement to the relevant service record.
Information or Complaints
For further information or concerns about our information practices, we invite you to contact [email protected]. If your privacy questions have not been answered or issues are not resolved to your satisfaction, you may wish to make a formal privacy complaint to us by contacting our Privacy Designate by email at [email protected] or by emailing [email protected].
If after contacting us, you feel that your concerns have not been addressed to your satisfaction, you have the right to complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario is responsible for making sure that privacy laws are followed in Ontario.
The Commissioner can be reached at:
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8
Phone: 416-326-3333 or 1-800-387-0073
Email: [email protected]