We know you may have questions about contacting us or when a child and family might require our services. Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about the role of our agency in protecting children and working with families, what to expect if we receive a referral about your family, and how we can help and support families to ensure the wellbeing of children and youth in our community.

SMFC receives referrals about families when there is a concern about the safety and/or wellbeing of a child or youth. Families are often referred to us by a doctor, teacher, other professional or someone living in the community who has concerns about a child or youth. Some parents or youth contact us for assistance themselves. SMFC provides services to children and youth under 18 years of age and their families.

Yes. You can call us and discuss your concerns about a situation with a professional without identifying yourself. You will be asked for identifying information about the family if the circumstances that you describe are reportable. There are occasions when information about a referral source must be shared as part of court proceedings that result from an assessment.

When a referral is received, the professional uses the Eligibility Spectrum in combination with other available information about the child’s vulnerability, child/family/community protective factors, safety threats and risks, and patterns of previous child welfare involvement, to determine the most appropriate response that meets the unique needs of children/youth and their families.

Eligibility Spectrum (https://www.oacas.org/publications-and-campaigns/professional-resources/eligibility-spectrum/)

Due to the private and confidential nature of our service to families, we are not able to provide follow up information to individuals that provide a referral to us.

If it is determined that an investigation will be opened to assess a family situation, a professional will contact and/or meet with you, the child(ren)/youth, caregivers and other sources of support that you may identify. We will plan with you to address any concerns or needs that our assessment has identified.

Many factors are considered when determining our response to concerns, such as the identity and cultural needs of the child and family, developmental needs of the child, family and environmental factors, parenting capacity and family strengths and supports.

We value your privacy. Our involvement with you and your family is kept strictly confidential. Your caseworker is part of a team that includes a supervisor, other caseworkers and possibly other community service providers who will be directly involved with your family. Sharing information with others requires your consent.

See our Notice of Information Practices for more information.

SMFC must keep accurate records of all contacts with children and their families to document our activity and collect important information to help your family. All records are confidential, and disclosure of their contents is strictly regulated. Please see the Notice of Information Practices which describes our agency’s practices with the Child Protection Information Network.

We make every effort to help children stay at home while we work with their families.

If we find the child or youth is at imminent risk of harm, we must ensure that a safety plan is made that may include removing them from their home. We always look to family and community for options to keep children and youth safe within their circle of support while we work to address the concerns. If caregivers disagree with the safety plan, we will bring the matter to court in order to provide oversight of our decisions.

If a parent has any questions or concerns about service provided to their family, they should discuss with their worker, and if not satisfied, should ask to speak with the Service Manager involved.