If a social worker contacts you or visits your home to ask you questions about your family, they might work for a delegated Aboriginal agency. Delegated Aboriginal agencies have an agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to provide certain child welfare services to Aboriginal communities.
You have the right to get legal advice. If the social worker's concerns are very serious, the social worker might take your child from your home. Call Legal Aid BC immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.
What is a delegated Aboriginal agency?
Delegated Aboriginal agencies:
- have an agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to provide child welfare services, and
- might have the power to take your child from your home and place your child in foster care.
Child protection laws in BC recognize the importance of Aboriginal family ties to Aboriginal children. Delegated Aboriginal agencies are part of an effort to restore the responsibilities of child protection and family support to Aboriginal communities.
What do delegated Aboriginal agencies do?
Delegated Aboriginal agencies might offer the following services:
- support services for the whole family
- help with preparing a voluntary care agreement for your child
- help with writing, monitoring, and reviewing your child's plan of care
- help with writing special needs agreements for your child if your child has special needs
- monitoring how your child is doing while they're in foster care
- help for youth who are moving toward independence
Some delegated Aboriginal agencies also have the power to:
- get and look into reports of child abuse and neglect
- get supervision orders to make sure your child is safe and healthy
- take your child from your home and place them in a relative's care, such as an aunt, uncle, or grandparent
- deal with social workers to place a child for adoption
Where can I find a delegated Aboriginal agency?
Aboriginal delegated Aboriginal agencies work with families living on reserve and off reserve across BC. Your band office or government agent office in your community might have the name of the delegated Aboriginal agency in your area.
You can also check a full list of the delegated Aboriginal agencies in BC on the ministry's website.
What can I do if a social worker has contacted me?
You have the right to get legal advice if a social worker from the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency:
- contacts you or visits your home to ask questions about your family,
- threatens to take your children away, or
- takes your children away.
Call Legal Aid
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.
Ask for support
You can ask for support from your Aboriginal community throughout the child protection process:
- If you're being investigated by the ministry and your band or Aboriginal community is represented by a delegated Aboriginal agency, you can ask the ministry to inform the delegated Aboriginal agency of the investigation.
- Whether you're being investigated by the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency, you can ask for a representative from your band or friendship centre who will support you during the investigation. This representative can help your child stay connected to their Aboriginal family and community.
Ask for a mediator
A mediator can help you work with the ministry. A mediator is a professional who's specially trained to:
- not take sides,
- help people reach an agreement, and
- help people work out conflicts.
You can ask for a mediator as soon as the social worker has contacted you.
Mediation is free for families who are involved with the ministry. Mediators can travel to remote communities.
Parents Legal Centre — Provides a free lawyer and an advocate to help parents in select locations address the social worker's concerns about their children's safety (child protection) early on.
Legal Aid Family Duty Counsel — Lawyers paid by Legal Aid who can help people with low incomes with their family law issues. Duty counsel can give free legal advice, but can’t take on your whole case or represent you at trial.
Representative for Children and Youth — Provides support for children, youth and families.
Attorney General — 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 Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — See their Guide to Indigenous Organizations and Services in British Columbiafor 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
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 (elsewhere in BC)
Upper Skeena Counselling Legal Assistance Society 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