Disabled parents treated same as others, Peel CAS says

A senior manager with a Children's Aid Society in Ontario is defending the way it assesses client families after a disabled couple revealed the organization forced them to pay for a round-the-clock "able-bodied attendant" to care for their child.
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A senior service manager with the Peel Children’s Aid Society in Ontario says parents with disabilities are assessed under the same criteria as other parents to determine if they are capable of looking after their children.

Daria Allan-Ebron, speaking to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday, was reacting to a report that the Peel society had forced a disabled couple to pay for round-the-clock "able-bodied attendant" care for their newborn son so that he could remain in their home.

While Allan-Ebron said she could not comment specifically on the case involving Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton in Mississauga, Ont., she said her organization follows a general process for assessing the challenges faced by a family.

"Children’s aid societies become involved with families for a variety of reasons," Allan-Ebron told Metro Morning on Wednesday. "And when we become involved with those families, we have to take a look at the circumstances that they’re facing, we have to look at the concerns that are raised."

Allan-Ebron said this assessment process involves talking to the family involved, consulting other professionals in the community and having social workers make their own observations.

The end goal is to ensure that parents are able to take care of all of their children’s needs, she said.

Asked how the Peel society determines if someone is "not able-bodied enough" to care for their child, Allan-Ebron said the organization’s social workers are not focused on whether a parent is disabled.

"The definition is about not whether they are able-bodied or disabled, it’s about their abilities to physically, cognitively, emotionally meet the demands of caring for a child," Allan-Ebron said.

Pressed further on how the Peel Children’s Aid Society would specifically determine who is an "able-bodied" parent, Allan-Ebron said:  "We would look at the situation that we were faced with, in terms of the challenges that any family would be facing in a particular situation,and we would look at what was required in order to support the challenges and needs of that particular family."

The Minister for Children and Youth Services, Eric Hoskins, said he had confidence in the Children’s Aid Society staff in Ontario.

"All of us, including our Children’s Aid Societies, strike a balance between their mandate to protect children and them understanding and embracing diversity," Hoskins said Wednesday.