I Am Having Challenges with My Children and Don't Want the Ministry to Remove Them
If you are having challenges raising your kids or other children under your care, you can sometimes get help without the Ministry of Children and Family Development removing the children from your home.
- See if there are any marriage, family, child or individual counsellors in or near your community. You could look in the Yellow Pages or ask a lawyer or advocate, or someone at the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
- Before involving the Ministry of Children and Family Development, you should probably speak with a lawyer or advocate. (See "Where to get help" below to find a lawyer or advocate to speak with.)
|In dealing with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, keep in mind that the Ministry has the authority to remove children from your home if they believe they are "in need of protection." On the other hand, the Ministry has access to many resources (often at little or no cost to you) that may help you overcome the challenge with your children.|
What happens next
If you decide to work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, you (and probably your children) will be asked to meet with the Ministry resource person who will assist you. Be prepared to provide as much information about your children as you can, such as dates of birth, school level and grades, medication and medical history. If you have chosen to work with the Ministry, they may suggest a variety of approaches, depending on the nature and seriousness of your problem. They may:
- Refer you to a community resource. The Ministry may open a file and want to track your progress with the resource.
- Provide you with family support services. In some cases, the Ministry will ask you to sign a family support service agreement which enables them to arrange counselling, parenting support, up to six days a month of respite care, and other support in your home. A family support worker will probably be assigned to your case. A family support service agreement can be for a period of six months, and then renewed after that.
- Attempt to arrange for your children to stay with a friend or family member, while you and/or the other parent sort out the problems which are creating child protection concerns. This is called “Alternative Measures”, and the Ministry is required to explore any such possibilities, and try to arrange them if possible, to reduce any disruption to children.
- If you are facing a crisis that means you are temporarily unable to care for the children in your home (even with the supports mentioned above), the Ministry may ask you to sign a voluntary care agreement and place your children in foster care for a period of up to 3 months for children under 5 years of age and up to 6 months for older children. If the crisis continues, the Ministry may apply to Court for temporary custody orders. If you think this may happen to you, you should speak with a lawyer or advocate or apply for legal aid.
- If your child has a permanent or long-term disability, the Ministry may put you in touch with their Community Living BC and have you sign a special needs agreement, through which they can provide respite care and in-home supports. The first special needs agreement can be for a period of six months, and renewed after that. You will be asked to pay something for the care provided, based on your income.
|If you or the children in your care are Aboriginal, the responsibility for the safety and welfare of the children may have been delegated to a Delegated Aboriginal Agency in your area. To find out if this is the case, contact the nearest office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (see the Blue Pages of your phone book for the local number or call Service BC at 1-800-663-7867).|
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Legal aid representation, to apply for legal aid.
- Family Law in BC website, for forms, self-help materials and other legal information about child protection and removal.
- PovNet, for the "Find An Advocate" feature on their website.
- Family duty counsel, for some assistance on the day you have to appear in court.
- Family LawLINE.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "What about child protection for Aboriginal people?"
- The Legal Services Society publication "Parents' Rights, Kids' Rights: A Parent's Guide to Child Protection Law in BC."
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stephen Wright, March 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|