This list explains many of the court orders and hearings for the child protection process. The child protection process is when a social worker from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or a delegated agency) contacts you or visits your home. Sometimes the child protection process can lead to hearings and court orders.
If a social worker contacts you or visits your home, you have the right to get legal advice. If the social worker has very serious concerns, they may take your child from your home. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.
To find services that can help you, see Who can help.
You have the right to get legal advice if a social worker from the ministry or a delegated agency:
Child protection matters are covered by Legal Aid. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer. If you don't qualify for a lawyer, there are other free legal aid resources available to you.
You can ask for support from your Aboriginal community throughout the child protection process:
A mediator can help you work with the ministry. A mediator is a professional who's specially trained to:
You can ask for a mediator as soon as the social worker has contacted you. You can also ask at any time during the child protection process.
Mediation is free for families who are involved with the ministry. Mediators can travel to remote communities.
When you go to court, your social worker must give you a copy of the Report to Court. This document should say:
An access order says when you can visit your child. If the ministry takes your child from your home, you can apply for access.
Apply for access as soon as you can.
If you and the ministry agree about how your child should be cared for, the judge may make a consent order. This means that you won't have to have a full hearing. If you reach a consent order, the judge may not have to make a finding that your child was in need of protection at the protection hearing.
The ministry wants you to follow a certain plan to protect your child. If you agree to do what's asked in the order, your child can stay with you. The terms of the plan are called the supervision terms (see below).
The ministry will ask for you to meet certain terms and conditions so that your child stays safe. If you agree with these terms, your child may be able to stay in your care under a supervision order (above). You can try to negotiate the terms of the supervision order, either with or without the help of a lawyer.
Make sure you ask the social worker what will happen if you don't agree to all of some or all of the supervision terms.
The first time you go to court. The judge will ask you if you agree with what the ministry wants to do:
If the ministry:
In either case, the ministry will notify you of the hearing date.
Your child will live with someone else (a family member or friend) with the ministry's supervision. The order will say how your child will be cared for.
The judge can make an interim order at the presentation hearing.
Your child will stay in foster care for a certain amount of time. The order will say when and how you can visit your child. The judge can make this order at the presentation hearing.
At a presentation hearing, the judge decides who will care for your child for a longer time period. The protection hearing usually follows the presentation hearing. The protection hearing must start no more than 45 days after the presentation hearing ends.
If you and the ministry agree about how your child should be cared for, the judge may make a consent order. This means you won't have to have a full hearing.
Your child will live with you, but the ministry will supervise you. The order will include supervision terms that you must follow.
The judge can make this order at the protection hearing (above). The order will last for a specific length of time.
Your child will live with someone else (a family member or friend) with the ministry's supervision. The order will say how your child will be cared for. You can apply for an access order.
The judge can make this order at the protection hearing. The order will last for a specific length of time.
The ministry becomes the permanent guardian of your child. You lose all your guardianship rights. This means you lose the right to make decisions about your child.
The judge will usually only make a continuing custody order if there's a serious problem that can't be fixed within a certain amount of time.
Sometimes you can get an access order even if your child goes into the ministry's continuing custody.
Ministry of Justice — Child Protection Mediation Program
BC211 — Free confidential referrals to help and information — Call 211
PovNet — Information about poverty issues and links to organizations that can help
BC Association of Friendship Centres — Find a friendship centre in your area
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation — See their A Guide to Aboriginal Organizations and Services in British Columbia for organizations that can help
Aboriginal community legal workers — Give legal information and limited advice services
Legal information outreach workers — Give legal information and provide referrals
Access Pro Bono Law Clinics — Free legal help
Carole James, MLA, Community Office — Free legal clinic, including family matters — Call 250-412-7794
Family duty counsel — Free legal advice on family matters — Kwadacha and Tsay Key Dene — Call 1-877-601-6066 (no charge)
Family duty counsel — Free legal advice on child protection matters — Williams Lake, call 778-395-6200
First Nations and Métis Outreach Program (The Law Centre) — Free legal help, including family matters — Victoria
Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program — Legal advocacy on a issues, including child protection — Bella Coola
UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (call no charge)
Upper Skeena Counselling & Legal Assistance Society — Help with family matters —Hazelton
Victoria Native Friendship Centre — Free legal clinic, including family matters — Call 250-412-7794