Child Protection Agreements British Columbia
By Colin Ferguson, Vancouver family lawyer, Vancouver child protection lawyer
In British Columbia, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (“MCFD”) is the government department tasked with child protection and managing the policies of the Child Family and Community Services Act (“CFCSA”). Under the CFCSA, a government Minister designates the Director of Child Protection, who in turn takes on the responsibility of ensuring that each child is cared for and safe within their homes.
If you are involved in a CFCSA matter, or you or a spouse have contacted the MCFD for support at a difficult time in your life, it is important to be aware that at any time you can attempt to make an agreement with them. As each family is different, there are a wide range of possible agreements which can be entered into.
Here are some examples of the child protection agreements that may be available for negotiation with the social workers on your file.
- A safety plan determines how your child will be cared for during a child protection investigation. These plans are often one of the first steps after the MCFD receives a report of a child protection concern. Failure to comply with a safety plan may result in the immediate removal of a child.
- A plan of care (or family plan) outlines how your child's needs will be met while the Ministry of Children and Family Development is involved with your family, such as where your child will live while your case is in court.
- An access agreement provides details and restrictions on when and where you can visit your child, if the MCFD has already removed your child from your home.
A support service agreement is available when you and your family find yourselves in a difficult position, for example with housing, unemployment, or if you are in need of respite care. These agreements outline the available services to help you take care of your child, often without a removal of the child. It is possible for these agreements to last for up to six months, and may be renewed in some cases.
- A voluntary care agreement is an agreement for your child to be in foster care for a limited time, and not due to a child protection concern. These agreements are generally entered in to when there is a specific, short term crisis which prevents you from caring for your child. It is common to see these agreements when a single parent requires admittance to the hospital for a treatment program, or if a parent is facing incarceration.
- An Extended Family Program agreement is an agreement for your child to be in the care of a friend or family member for a limited time. It is important to note that your family member may be entitled to funding for the care of your child during the duration of this agreement. There are restrictions on the duration of the agreement based on the age of the children.
- A special needs agreement can be made for care and support if your child has been diagnosed with a permanent or long-term severe or developmental disability. Services may include autism funding, nursing support, in-home support, and respite care. This agreement is not available for all conditions, and must be a qualifying condition.
Before you sign any agreement with the MCFD, or if you have already signed an agreement and would like to have it changed, a chid protection lawyer can be retained to review the agreement and provide you advice.
The Vancouver Child Protection Lawyers at Crossroads Law have extensive trial and mediation experience in the area of child protection. We also provide a full range of divorce and family law services. Contact us for a FREE consultation at the contact information below.