If you can't take care of your children for a while, you can ask the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or a delegated Aboriginal agency) to place them with family or friends to care for them. This means instead of going into foster care, your children stay with someone they know.
You can arrange for this through an Extended Family Program agreement. This is sometimes called an EFP agreement. The EFP agreement is for only a limited time.
How the program can help
The Extended Family Program is a government program. The Ministry of Children and Family Development runs the program.
The program allows your children to be placed with someone they know if you can't take care of them for a while. This means if a social worker takes your children from your home (or is going to take them), you can ask the social worker to place them in the care of:
- a family member
- a friend who has an important relationship with them
- someone who has a cultural or traditional connection to them
For example, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or family friend could take care of your children.
The program's goal is to return your children to you whenever possible.
How can the Extended Family Program help my family?
The Extended Family Program:
- gives your children a living arrangement that's less upsetting for them while you can't take care of them
- is an alternative to foster care
- builds on the strengths of your family and community
- can give your children's care providers financial help and other support services
The person looking after your children is called their caregiver.
Your children are placed with their care provider through an Extended Family Program agreement (sometimes called an EFP agreement). This program gives your children's caregiver financial support and other support services.
Not everyone qualifies (is accepted) for the program.
- If your children are with a care provider who has court-ordered custody or guardianship of them, they don't qualify.
- If your children are already with a caregiver who's still enrolled in the Child in the Home of a Relative program (sometimes called CIHR), they might not qualify. The Child in the Home of a Relative program has different rules.
Extended Family Program agreements
An Extended Family Program agreement:
- sets out the best way to meet your children's needs
- sets out how long your children stay with their caregiver
An Extended Family Program agreement requires the following:
- The social worker looks at your children's needs. The social worker helps you decide if the Extended Family Program is the best fit for you and your family.
- You work as a team with the social worker and your children's caregiver to come up with a plan for your children's care. The plan includes the services and supports your children need.
- You must deal with the issues that keep you from caring for your children. This is so the ministry can return your children to you by the time the agreement ends.
- The social worker must look into the background of the caregiver you suggest. They will:
- review the caregiver's Child, Family and Community Service Act records (sometimes called CFCSA records)
- do a criminal record check
- check personal references
- check their home
- see how ready and able they are to care for your children
The first agreement's length depends on how old your children are.
Under 5: agreement length is no longer than 3 months
5 to 11: agreement length is no longer than 6 months
12 and older: agreement length is no longer than 6 months
If a longer placement would be better for your children, you might be able to renew the agreement.
Under 5: agreement length is no longer than 12 months
5 to 11: agreement length is no longer than 18 months
12 and older: agreement length is no longer than 24 months
The social worker reviews your Extended Family Program agreement every three or six months.
Extended Family Program agreements replaced the kith and kin agreements and the Child in the Home of a Relative program in April 2010.
Parent Support Services Society of BC — Gives support to parents and caregivers, and has a support line for grandparents raising grandchildren — Call 1-855-474-9777
Extended Family Program — Ministry website includes information about the steps involved to become a caregiver
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
BC Association of Friendship Centres — Find a friendship centre in your area
BC211 — Free confidential referrals to help and information — Call 211
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — See their Guide to Indigenous Organizations and Services in British Columbia for organizations that can help
PovNet — Information about poverty issues and links to organizations that can help
Access Pro Bono Law Clinics — Free legal help
Lawyer Referral Service — Helps you find a lawyer to take your case — Call 604-687-3221 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-800-663-1919 (elsewhere in BC)
Department of Justice Community-based Justice Programs — Alternatives to mainstream justice processes
First Nations and Métis Outreach Program (The Law Centre, University of Victoria) — Free legal help — Victoria
Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC — Culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system — Call 604-985-5355 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-877-811-1190 (elsewhere in BC)
Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program — Free legal help — Bella Coola
UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — Call 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (elsewhere in BC)
Upper Skeena Counselling & Legal Assistance Society — Free legal help — Hazelton
Victoria Native Friendship Centre — Free legal clinic — Call 250-412-7794