In British Columbia, child protection is governed by Child, Family and Community Service Act (the “CFCSA”). The CFCSA governs the safety and wellbeing of children who are under the age of 19 years. If a child’s safety is at risk, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (the “MCFD”) gets involved, and if necessary, removes the child from the home and takes the child into its custody to take care of the child’s best interests.
It is the duty of the parents or the guardians of a child to take care of all the needs of the child, including but not limited to providing the child with the necessities of life, medical and dental care of the child when needed, provide them a safe and healthy environment, and ensuring proper schooling. Every parent or guardian of a child has a duty to protect the child from emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.
Anyone who has a reason to believe that a child needs protection can report to the Ministry about their concerns. The Ministry gets involved into the child’s life via social workers, who investigate whether the complaint is genuine, make assessments and report to the Director of MCFD to determine the action plan, whether the child is in need of protection and needs to be removed from home, or the parents need support services to take care of the child. If a child is removed from home, the matter has to be brought before a Provincial Court judge within 7 days of the removal, with a report from the social worker as to what led to the removal of the child. If the protection and removal involves an Aboriginal child, the applicable aboriginal organization is notified by the Director about the date, time and place of the court hearing. The parents can address the Ministry’s concern for the child’s best interests, and enter into written agreements with the Ministry. Mediation and case conferences are other ways of addressing these issues.
Despite the wide powers conferred to the MCFD under the CFCSA, the CFCSA also provides protection to the parents up to some extent. If you as a parent or as guardian of a child, feel that your freedom rights are violated by the intervention of the ministry while the Ministry investigates a complaint against you, you have a right for a legal representation. We are here to assist you in these matters.