A young person who is under the age of 18 can contact a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) if they are at risk of harm or facing harm. Harm can be physical, emotional, sexual harm, or neglect. It is new that 16 and 17 year olds who are not already getting help from CAS can now ask for help and enter into a Voluntary Youth Service Agreement (VYSA) with CAS.
Voluntary Youth Service Agreement (VYSA):
- Where a 16 or 17 year old is found to be in need of protection, the young person can enter into an VYSA with CAS.
- The agreement is between the young person and the CAS.
- The young person has the right to consent or refuse to enter into an agreement with CAS for services.
- The young person can end a VYSA.
- Where applicable, Bands and native communities must be notified that the young person is preparing to enter into a VYSA.
- The young person has a right to legal advice and legal representation before signing a VYSA.
- A Voluntary Youth Services (VYS) Plan must be created within 30 days of signing a VYSA.
- The VYS Plan will including finding a place to live and provide other supports, eg. financial and social supports, planning for transitioning into adulthood and assisting with developing and/or maintaining cultural connections.
Reporting and Investigations:
- Any person, including a young person, may make a report to CAS where they have a reasonable suspicion that a 16 or 17 year old is, or may be, in need of protection. It is not mandatory to report to CAS.
- It is mandatory to report when the young person is under 16 years of age.
- Reasons for protection include: physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, and risk of harm.
- After a report is received, the CAS will usually start an investigation by talking to people who know the young person to determine if they are at risk.
- If the young person does not consent to an investigation, the CAS will think about how much risk there is to the young person and consider alternative ways to make a decision about the young person’s safety concerns.
- VYSA’s expire on the young person’s 18th birthday.
- Young person becomes eligible for the Continued Care and Support for Youth Program (CCSY).
- CCSY provides financial and non-financial supports for people 18 to 21 years of age who were in the care of CAS.
- This may include funding to caregivers, a Youth-In-Transition Worker, Extended benefits (eg. health, dental), and post-secondary supports (eg. tuition grants) and the Living and Learning Grant which provides financial support during the school year if enrolled in a post-secondary education or training program.
Leaving Home at 16 & 17 years of age:
- None of this takes away the right of a 16 or 17 year old to Leave Home; see the Leaving Home section of our Legal Wiki.
JFCY Legal Rights materials are in progress.
The Ministry of Child and Youth Services has produced these information materials: