Parenting | Family

Mom Reported To Child Services For Neglect After Switching Dentists

A routine dental appointment for her 10 year-old daughter turned into every mom's worst nightmare, when the clinic made an accusation that will stay on her record forever.

Melissa Lopez brought her daughter Elianna to a new dentist last year and was surprised to learn that her daughter would need thousands of dollars in dental work.

The mother-of-three doesn't have dental insurance, so they would have to pay for the work themselves. As a result, they decided to seek a second opinion from another dentist.

After visiting another dentist in the area, she learned that her daughter had fewer than the original 9 cavities she was diagnosed with.

That's when Lopez decided to have the dental work taken care of at the other clinic, not notifying the other dentist she made the switch.

In June, Lopez received a call from the Children's Aid Society.

Continue to the next page to find out why.

Health-care professionals are required to report possible cases of parental negligence as part of their job. According to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO), the first dentist was just following protocol when he filed the complaint.

Under the Child and Family Services Act, everyone in Ontario has a responsibility to report suspected child abuse and neglect according to Kevin Marsh, director of communications at RCDSO.

"Health-care professionals and other people who work closely with children have a special responsibility under the act," he added.

Professionals can actually be fined if they should have reported something, but chose not to.

The grounds of what constitutes suspected neglect however, are up to the professional to make the call.

"You don't have to have proof of abuse or neglect, just reasonable grounds," Marsh said.

The Children's Aid Society said that the first dentist had reported her for "oral neglect" of her daughter.

"I couldn't believe it," Lopez told CBC Toronto in an interview this week.

"As a mother, you pride yourself on how you raise your kids. I have three kids — they're healthy, they're happy, they do great in school, they have lots of friends," she continued. "For someone to turn around and try to accuse me of neglecting her, it's absurd."

The mother said she didn't notify the first dentist or respond to the office's reminders about booking appointments, but doesn't believe she should be red-flagged based on how frequently people switch dentists.

"There was no sort of letter stating they're concerned for her health ... We've switched dentists before and never notified the previous one," she said.

Lopez provided CAS with evidence of her daughter's dental work and the case was quickly closed. But in spite of proving there was no case, the file will be permanently on her record.

"It will always be there, 10, 15, 20 years from now," she said. "I'm red-flagged, I've been marked, and there's no reason for this to have happened."

All CAS records are kept for "accountability purposes", says Andrea Maenza, communication co-coordinator for the Durham Children's Aid Society.

While there may be no negative implication from having a permanent case file, Lopez finds the whole thing unsettling.

"I would absolutely love it if they would just remove that file for me, because I don't feel there was any just reason to report me in the first place," she said.

Source: CBC