The Duty to Report Child Abuse and Neglect

An OCSWSSW Member’s Obligations

The Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (CYFSA) and its supporting regulations were proclaimed on April 30, 2018. Of particular relevance to social workers and social service workers is Section 125, which sets out the duty to report.

The College recently updated its article on the duty to report to reflect this important legislative change. This article has been developed to assist you as an OCSWSSW member in better understanding your duty to report under Section 125 of the CYFSA. It does not provide specific legal advice.

The duty to report

As an OCSWSSW member, you have a duty to report (an obligation to disclose certain confidential client information without consent) that is set out in Section 125 of the CYFSA. Because social workers and social service workers engage frequently (both directly and indirectly) with children who may be at risk of harm or in need of protection, you are in a unique position to recognize possible signs of child abuse and neglect. It is therefore imperative that you be well-informed with respect to your duty to report under the CYFSA.

The CYFSA and a child who is in need of protection

Section 125 of the CYFSA imposes a duty to report on any person, including those who perform professional or official duties with respect to children (including social workers and social service workers), if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is in need of protection. The CYFSA provides that a child is in need of protection if they have suffered or are at risk of suffering certain defined types of harm or if they fall within certain circumstances, listed in the CYFSA.

The description of the harms, risks and circumstances listed in Section 125 of the CYFSA can be found in the College’s Duty to Report article.

You may need to weigh several factors and exercise professional judgment when determining whether or not you have a duty to report in a particular situation. This includes careful consideration of the case-specific details, relevant standards of practice and applicable legislation. In addition to seeking supervision and/or consultation, you may choose to seek an opinion from a lawyer.

For further information about this issue, you are strongly encouraged to review The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Handbook, Second Edition, 2008 and the Practice Notes “Meeting Professional Obligations and Protecting Clients’ Privacy: Disclosure of Information without Consent.”

If you have further questions about this issue or other practice concerns, please contact the Professional Practice Department at 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380 or email