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According to the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario, Children's Aid Societies must consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) when appropriate for child protection cases. Specifically,

  • If a child is or may be in need of protection, a children's aid society must consider whether ADR could assist in resolving any issue related to the child or a plan for the child's care.
  • A judge, with the consent of the parties, may adjourn the court proceeding to permit the use of ADR for any issue in dispute.
  • On applications to vary or terminate an openness order before or after an adoption, the court may, with the consent of the parties, adjourn the proceeding to permit the use of ADR for any disputes related to the proceeding.

Three methods of ADR are prescribed:

  • Child Protection Mediation
  • Family Group Conferencing
  • For First Nations families, an ADR approach established by their band or community or other approach deemed appropriate by them

This last technique is sometimes called "Aboriginal Approaches." Building on the existing capacity in each community, inspired by traditional processes of dispute resolution, First Nations ADR/ODR will evolve over time as an on-going process. A March symposium on Original Dispute Resolution is an important step in that process. Members of Aboriginal communities are also welcome to use Child Protection Mediation or Family Group Conferencing. For more information, contact ADR-LINK.

Further, according to Ontario Regulation 496/06, the alternative dispute resolution:

  1. must be undertaken with the consent of all participants.
  2. must be one that can be terminated at any time by any of the participants to it.
  3. must be conducted by an impartial facilitator who has no decision-making power.
  4. must comply with regulations concerning confidentiality of and access to records and information.
  5. must NOT be an arbitration.

The Ministry of Children & Youth Services funds court-related ADR services in the child protection context. In the South West Region of Ontario, those funds flow through ADR-LINK.

What is ADR-LINK?

ADR-LINK connects Children's Aid Societies with ADR practitioners in the South West Region of Ontario. When a child protection case qualifies for ADR, the CAS contacts ADR-LINK to match the case with a qualified professional who accepts cases within that geographical area. To play this role as broker, ADR-LINK maintains a roster of qualified ADR professionals accepting cases in any part of its catchment area (Bruce County, Chatham-Kent, Elgin County, Huron-Perth, London-Middlesex, Owen Sound and the County of Grey, Oxford County, Sarnia-Lambton, and Windsor-Essex). Those professionals are all accredited or certified through either or both of these bodies:

Anyone interested in training for either of these ADR methods should consult those web sites for the next available training dates.

What are the steps in the referral process?

  1. Determining if the case qualifies for ADR and selecting the ADR method most amenable to the case. The CAS does this.
  2. Securing consent of all key parties for the referral to ADR-LINK. The CAS does this.
  3. Notifiying the Office of the Children's Lawyer. The CAS does this.
  4. Making a referral to ADR-LINK. The CAS does this.
  5. Matching an ADR professional from the ADR-LINK roster to the case. ADR-LINK does this.
  6. Setting up and conducting the ADR process (including screening for suitability of the case for the ADR method). The ADR professional does this.
  7. Getting everyone's feedback and opinions about the process. ADR-LINK does this.
  8. Submitting an itemized bill of services rendered plus receipts for approved expenses. The ADR professional does this.
  9. Flowing the funds to the ADR professional. ADR-LINK does this.

How can a CAS make a referral?

If you work for a children's aid society in the South West Region of Ontario, find a description of the referral process on this web site, including a form you can complete on-line and save for your records (you must have Adobe Reader 7.0 or higher).

How do I place my name on the ADR-LINK roster?

If you are on the CP roster of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation and/or the George Hull Centre and are available to take cases anywhere in the South West Region of Ontario, you can ask to be on the ADR-LINK roster for Child Protection Mediation or Family Group Conferencing. Referrals are now being processed from nine children's aid societies.

Application to be Placed on ADR-LINK Roster
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