The government of Ontario has amended the Child and Family Services Act, the legislation which mandates Children's Aid Societies throughout the province to intervene in situations where children are being abused or neglected.
For a long time if a family disagreed with the intervention of a Children's Aid Society in their lives their only option was to fight in court. As with all litigation, child protection cases are costly both financially and in terms of the time and energy they demand. They also end with the judge declaring one side the winner and the other a loser. Too often the children who are in the middle of these battles end up being the real losers. A process which is meant to help them when they need it most can tragically end up harming them even more.
As a result of experience in other jurisdictions and recent pilot projects in Ontario, the government has recognized that, although in some cases a decision by judge after a full hearing will still be necessary, the best way to resolve most problems associated with the proper care of children is through open, accountable, and honest communication between all those who are involved. This may include parents, Children's Aid workers, extended families and friends, foster parents, and native band councils in the case of aboriginal children. Perhaps most importantly, the children involved need to be given a voice in the matter.
Mediation has now been accepted by the government of Ontario as an approved process for dealing with many cases in which a Children's Aid Society becomes involved with a family.
As with all mediation the people involved must agree to participate in the process and the mediator has no authority to impose a solution on the situation. The goal is for the people most involved in the conflict to reach a mutually acceptable agreement themselves.
The absolutely central focus of Child Protection Mediation is the best interests of the child involved. The mediator works with everyone involved, including the child, and their lawyers to reach a common understanding of the current problems which may exist in parenting as well as workable and fair solutions to them. If everyone involved can come to a consensus on how to best care for the child in the future they can enter into written agreements outlining the plan or present their proposed agreement to a family court judge for approval.
Only mediators who have a significant degree of experience in dealing with families in conflict, appropriate education and training, and who have successfully completed a government designed and mandated training course in the specialized area of Child Protection Mediation can work with families and Children's Aid Societies in such difficult and challenging situations.
Robert A. Kominar has significant experience and knowledge in this field. He practised as a family lawyer for ten years, followed by a further 10 years as a law professor. Since 2001 Robert has been a full time mediator and arbitrator. Robert has achieved the designation of Comprehensive Family Mediator, awarded by Family Mediation Canada. This is the most rigorous credential available to family mediators anywhere. Robert is a member of the Board of Directors of Family Mediation Canada and has taught dispute resolution courses and skills in 6 universities across Canada.
Robert has completed the requirements set out by the government of Ontario to practise Child Protection Mediation.
Please refer to Robert's curriculum vitae for more information about his background and qualifications.
Robert is currently available to assist in Child Protection Mediations in the following areas of the province: