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Meet Colin

"CAS people also do great work to support the school"

Principal of Lumen Christie School in Milton, Colin is no stranger to having the Halton CAS staff in his school. He first hosted workers from 2001 to 2003 in a pilot project at St. Joseph (Acton) Elementary School.

“To make the program work, the relationship among the administration, staff and the Halton CAS worker is crucial,” he says. “I like to see an interchange, and for that the CAS person needs to be visible. It’s key that they have social skills to open up dialogue and build trusting relationships with staff. That makes a successful program.”

“I like to see the CAS worker having lunch in the staff room, and at school social functions. I want  to see the CAS worker doing presentations at staff meetings, making relationships clear and open so that teachers don’t feel worried about the ‘unknown presence’ on the other end of the phone if they need to call CAS or if they have questions. They shouldn’t be perceived as part of an outside body.“

“This breaks down barriers and gives teacher’s confidence, reduces their anxiety, reassures teachers that parents who might be angry if there’s an investigation can be re-directed to our CAS person who has the mandate to do the job. It creates security for staff that can sometimes be at risk. It lets them know they have someone here who can observe and advise if we have a need to move a child out of a classroom. I know that if we connect a child and family with a CAS worker, the services they need—medical, housing, language, whatever it may be—can be expedited, especially if they’re in crisis. I see that all the time.”

“Personally, I benefit from regular, informal meetings with the CAS worker about community and school concerns. It helps me, from a professional point of view, to get a perspective outside the educator’s. My concerns are often not reportable, but I want guidance, and the direction I get through informal discussions is invaluable.”

“Teachers often feel as though they’re in the cross hairs. For example, we had a Grade 1 student from a split home where the parents shared custody. There was a lot of acrimony, and a sense that the parents were using every argument for full custody. The child arrived at school one day with blood on his ear. The teacher had a duty to report it and the CAS followed up because there were already issues. The parent reported one was angry with the teacher because of the custody case. But the worker was able to divert the anger away from the teacher. Teachers are always at risk of that anger, and the CAS relationship is very helpful.”

“CAS people also do great work to support the school. They offer presentations and they run after-school groups. They contribute in many ways—not least offering advice to staff when we ask for tips about issues with our own children.”