My children have been apprehended by the society. What are my rights?
When a child or youth is admitted to care there is important information of which parents and guardians should know. The information in this pamphlet is a brief overview of some common questions parents may have and some information that you should know when your child/youth is admitted to care.
When Will I See My Child?
The SMFC must make a reasonable effort to notify you of all matters involving court. If the Family Court judge decides that your child must remain in our care, the SMFC must notify and allow you to take part in important decisions affecting your child. There must also be reasonable access to certain information in SMFC files. A plan will be created to outline what everyone must do to ensure the best outcome for your child, whether that is remaining in our care for a period of time, or returning home.
Access will be arranged through your Society worker, you, and the courts if necessary. Access should always be planned, and any safety issues along with the needs of your child/youth will be taken into consideration when planning access visits.
You may visit with your child in private, unless a judge or your worker and/or your child’s worker through a court order, consider it is not in your child’s best interests. These visits may occur at your home, in the community, or at the place where your child is living. You and your SMFC worker (and your child if he or she is old enough) will discuss when, where, and how often you can visit.
What Will Happen to the Child Tax Benefit?
The Federal Government and Canada Revenue Agency require the Child Tax Benefit be redirected to the Children’s Aid Society when a child/youth is in care. Unfortunately, this can take several weeks to occur and you may continue to receive the Child Tax Benefit money after your child has been admitted to care. It is important that you do not spend this money as you will be required to pay it back to Revenue Canada. If you receive a child Disability Benefit, CPP Survivor’s Benefits and/or Universal Child Care Benefit for your child/youth, it will also be redirected to the Society while your child/youth is in care. Once the child/youth is no longer in the Society’s care, the parent/guardian must reapply for all of the above benefits
The Society values your feedback and is committed to providing high quality service. If you have concerns regarding the service our Society has provided to you and your family, please refer to our “We Care About Our Service” page.
Where Will My Child Live?
Your child that comes into the Society’s care may reside with an extended family member (KIN) or friend or neighbour (KITH) if approved by the Society. A child may also be placed either in a foster home or group home. All of the Society’s foster homes have approved home studies, police record checks and are seen regularly by Society workers to ensure that your child/youth is safe and well cared for during their time in care. Group homes and foster homes outside of the Society are also approved homes which are licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
What Information Will My Worker Need About My Child?
Your worker will have many questions for you. For example, is there a family member, a friend or a neighbour who could care or assist in the care for your child/youth during this time? Or, is there anyone that your child/youth should maintain contact with while in care?
Your worker will ask you for your child/youth’s:
- Health card & Immunization Record
- Food preferences & routines (i.e formula, vegetarian, betimes, bath time, meal times, etc.)
- Birth Certificate or Canadian citizenship card or permanent resident card, etc.
- Medical/dental benefits you have which provide coverage for your child/youth
- Any family medical and/or social history information (i.e. allergies)
- Favourite toys, blankets, etc.
Types of Workers Involved In My Child/Youth’s Care
Your Family Service Worker will continue to support your family. They will develop and implement a service plan to reduce the risk to your child and promote your child’s well-being. This includes working with you towards returning your child home and addressing protection concerns. Your worker also partners with other community services as required and if necessary, will take matters to court.
A Child & Youth Services Worker will be assigned to work directly with your child/youth while they are in care. They will assess the needs of your child and implement services when necessary. This worker is responsible for your child’s physical, emotional, psychological, educational, behavioural and cultural/spiritual needs while in CAS care.
When your child/youth is in foster care, there is also a Foster Resource Worker who works directly with the foster parents or group homes.
If your child is residing with family, or there are plans for them to reside with a family member or community member, a Kinship Worker, or for First Nations Families a Customary Care Worker, is assigned to help family members that are caring for a child.
Can I Attend Plan of Care Meetings/School Meetings/Medical Appointments, etc. ?
When a child/youth is in the Society’s care, the Society worker is required to meet regularly with your child/youth, the foster parents and any other people involved in your child/youth’s care and/or planning (i.e. the parents, extended family, school, probation officer, doctors, Band Representative, etc.). As a parent, you have the opportunity to attend these meetings as long there are no Court Orders or safety concerns that prohibit your participation. You are encouraged to speak to your worker about these meetings and attend if possible.
What About Court?
You are encouraged to seek legal advice when your child is admitted to care. You can do this by contacting Legal Aid at 1-800-668-8258 to see if you are eligible for assistance to obtain a lawyer. If your child/youth was apprehended, your worker will call you and tell you which day to attend court. If you are unable to obtain a lawyer by that time, you are encouraged to speak to Duty Counsel. This is a free lawyer provided by the courts on the day of court. If you need to speak to Duty Counsel, it is best to attend court early as there can be a long wait list to speak to Duty Counsel.
Legally, a child under the age of 6 can remain in care for 1 year cumulatively before a Judge must make a decision about their permanent home. For children over the age of 6, this decision must be made within 2 years.
Are the Different Types of Legal Status?
Temporary Care Agreement (TCA): This is a voluntary agreement between the parents and the Society placing the child in care. This agreement plus all extensions are signed for a specified period of time not to exceed 12 months.
Interim Care & Custody: is a Temporary Order which is usually made on the first appearance of a Court Application. Interim (Temporary) care and custody Orders can either place the child in the care of the Society, or with the parent or with another person subject to Society supervision. If your child/youth was apprehended, their legal status would be Interim Care and Custody of the Society until a final order is made by a Judge.
Society Wardship: This is an order that places the child in the care of the Society for a specified period of time not to exceed 12 months.
Crown Wardship: This is a final order placing the child in the care of the Society permanently. The CAS becomes the child’s legal guardian. This order will continue until it expires on the child’s 18th birthday unless the Crown Wardship is terminated, an adoption occurs or the child marries.
What are the child’s rights?
- The right to participate in important decisions that are made about his or her life in a way that’s appropriate to his or her age and ability
- The right to privacy
- The right to visit with you, unless a judge decides or a court order provides for the SMFC worker to decide, that it’s not in your child’s best interests
- The right to receive appropriate care, including nutritious meals, education that suits his or her abilities, regular medical and dental care, age appropriate clothing, and participation in after-school recreational activities
- The right to freedom from physical abuse or punishment, and from emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse
- The right to practice his or her religion, and to receive religious instruction
- The right to participate in activities that are important to his or her culture and heritage
- The right to have his or her individuality respected, including ability, sexual orientation, and gender identification