My family is involved with MCFD in court. What's happening during COVID-19?
COVID-19 has affected many stages in the child protection process for those working with the ministry on the child's plan of care. Whether you’re participating in mediation, scheduling a family case conference, or waiting for a court hearing, the COVID-19 crisis could affect your next steps.
If you’re scheduled for a child protection case conference
Child protection case conferences scheduled between March 15 and May 16, 2020, have now been rescheduled and are taking place by phone or video. Conferences that were scheduled from May 19 to July 3, 2020, are happening by phone or video on the date originally set. The court will contact you with details..
Child protection trials
Child protection trials scheduled from March 15 to May 16 are being rescheduled for dates after July 6, 2020. Child protection trials scheduled from May 19 to July 3 may be able to proceed on the date scheduled (please contact the Judicial Case Manager). All family trials scheduled after July 3, 2020, will remain on the trial list on the date scheduled. Counsel and self-represented litigants should attend court in person on the date scheduled at 9:00 a.m. to tell the court if they’re ready to go ahead that day. The court will decide which trials will proceed. Witnesses and anyone who has a lawyer are to wait outside the courthouse (within a 30-minute distance) and be prepared to be called to attend court.
If your child has been removed and you have a date for a court hearing
The initial presentation hearing or protection hearing will go ahead at the scheduled time and day (or on the court “list day”) by phone.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re at a hearing or conference stage
Contact your social worker or lawyer to check if you need to attend court by phone or if court has been delayed. It’s really important you don’t miss your court hearing. If you don’t have access to a telephone, talk to your social worker or lawyer to figure out a solution.
If you need help with your case
No matter which stage you’re at in the child protection process, you can get help. If there's a Parents Legal Centre in your community, call them to get help by phone. These centres have free lawyers and advocates to help parents deal with a social worker's concerns about their children's safety. Or call the Legal Aid BC Call Centre for where to find legal aid services in your community.
I'm a First Nation youth living on reserve and will age out of care during COVID-19. What help can I get?
First Nation youth won't age out of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government announced it will cover the costs for First Nations child and family services agencies to continue to support youth who are in the on-reserve system. See the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development website and the Aged Out website for more information.
I'd like to have a Gladue report for my court appearance. Can I get one during COVID-19?
Yes, you can get a Gladue report prepared during COVID-19. To get a Gladue report, ask your lawyer to submit a request to Legal Aid BC. The Gladue writer assigned to prepare your report will interview you by phone. In-person interviews can’t be done at this time due to COVID-19 precautions. It may take more than 8 weeks to get your report because of delays in the criminal justice system.
My child is in foster care. How does COVID-19 affect our visits?
At this stage of the pandemic, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has said in-person visits are permitted in these situations:
- If in-person visits happened before March 26, 2020, you can continue them as long as you follow public health principles to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- If in-person visits happened after March 26, 2020, you can continue them through regular case planning instead of by exception. These visits may increase depending on circumstances.
Social workers and the ministry have to review whether in-person visits are possible in some situations, See the MCFD bulletin for more details.
Get other help
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line — Free, experienced, and culturally competent help — Call 1-855-242-3310 (24 hours every day)
Page last updated: Monday, July 13, 2020 17:23 pm hrs