SD&G CAS needs to ‘step up their game’ on child abuse, protesters say

Protesters wave placards outside the SD&G Children's Aid Society building on Boundary Road in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The demonstrators are calling for swifter action from CAS on domestic violence cases involving children. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Around 50 protesters picketed outside the SD&G Children’s Aid Society building Thursday afternoon calling for quicker action from the agency when it comes to domestic violence involving children.

“They just keep failing all of us out here,” Brigitte Gareau told Cornwall Newswatch during the lunch hour demonstration. “It’s not right for children to have to be in homes where they’re not being loved properly. They (CAS) need to step up their game and start taking actions and helping these poor, innocent children.”

Even though the demonstration was sparked by a particular domestic violence case on Monday, Gareau says the protest is about what they perceive as a greater problem with CAS.

“We’re just trying to show them that we’re not going to let them neglect children anymore. A lot of times they take kids out of good homes and they say it’s because of neglect…and now they’re leaving a child in a home where she was brutally beaten and it’s just not right,” Gareau said.

Asked about how she knew the details of Monday’s domestic violence case, Gareau said she spoke with the case worker assigned to the investigation. “He told me that they are trying everything in their power to apprehend the child but it’s a procedure,” she said.

While she understands it’s a process, Gareau still feels the CAS is doing its job “very slowly.”

While critical of the agency, Gareau says she has tried to help the CAS and O.P.P. by collecting Facebook postings and cell phone text messages in the Monday case and forwarding them to authorities.

Rachel Daigneault, the executive director of the SD&G Children’s Aid Society, says she met with the protesters today and heard their concerns about the safety of children in the region.

“We always work with community partners and members of the community to help us increase child safety. We too take the protection of children of our community very seriously. Unfortunately, we cannot share information about a specific child because of the confidential nature of child protection,” Daigneault wrote in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.

Daigneault says safety plans for children can vary from case to case, but they look at various support and service streams, including extended family, before putting a child in foster care.

“We encourage people to contact us immediately if they have concerns about the safety of a child so that we can respond. Our number is 613-933-2292.”

The Cornwall Police Service was also on Boundary Road for this afternoon’s demonstration to ensure traffic flowed through the area.