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In poverty


The legal context: Assessing the child welfare legislation from a rights-based framework

THE STATE’S POSITIVE OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE SUPPORTS PRIOR TO APPREHENSION

Recommendation 1: States should pursue policies that ensure support for families in meeting their responsibilities towards the child and promote the right of the child to have a relationship with both parents. These policies should address the root causes of child abandonment, relinquishment and separation of the child from his/her family by ensuring, inter alia, the right to birth registration, and access to adequate housing and to basic health, education and social welfare services, as well as by promoting measures to combat poverty, discrimination, marginalization, stigmatization, violence, child maltreatment and sexual abuse, and substance abuse.


Recommendations for systemic reform

Recommendation 1: The BC government should work with Indigenous communities to undertake a comprehensive and transparent assessment of the steps that need to be taken to address the disparities in the social determinants of health for Indigenous peoples in BC.


Recommendations for systemic reform

Recommendation 2: The BC government should undertake a review of the current breakdown in ministerial responsibilities over primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention supports to assess where responsibilities lie for prevention services. It should then amend legislation and mandates, and reallocate funding to fill the current gaps in service provision.


The legal context: Assessing the child welfare legislation from a rights-based framework

THE STATE’S POSITIVE OBLIGATION TO PREVENT AND ADDRESS FAMILY VIOLENCE

Recommendation 2: States should allocate adequate resources to address risk factors and prevent violence before it occurs. Policies and programmes should address immediate risk factors, such as a lack of parent-child attachment, family breakdown, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and access to rearms. In line with the Millennium Development Goals, attention should be focused on economic and social policies that address poverty, gender and other forms of inequality, income gaps, unemployment, urban overcrowding, and other factors which undermine society


Recommendations for systemic reform

Recommendation 3: The BC Human Rights Commission should undertake a review/inquiry into MCFD culture, training, policies, procedures, practices, and accountability mechanisms to assess whether MCFD policy and practice is in line with the Human Rights Code.


Recommendations for legislative reform

Recommendation 4: MCFD should undertake a comprehensive legislative review of the CFCSA in order to bring the provincial child welfare standards in line with the federal minimum standards. It is essential that Indigenous communities and Nations are adequately consulted in the review process.


Recommendations for legislative reform

Recommendation 5: MCFD should amend the guiding principles of the CFCSA to ensure that children’s rights are not viewed as hierarchical but interdependent. The guiding principles should reflect the holistic nature of children’s rights including the right of the child to maintain relationships with their family and community, the child’s right to support services, and the importance of maintaining the child’s relationship to their culture.


Recommendations for legislative reform

Recommendation 7: MCFD should amend the CFCSA to reflect the right of the child to not be separated from their family by reason only of their parent or guardian:

  1. lacking the same or similar economic and social advantages as others in BC society;
  2. engaging is substance use or coping with addiction when a parent is actively pursuing or participating in addiction services; or
  3. having a disability.



Recommendations for legislative reform

Recommendation 9: MCFD should review the legislation to assess how the legislation could support a more accountable and robust legal framework for prevention-based supports including by:

  1. Adding a comprehensive list of functions for MCFD at the beginning of the legislation which includes:
    1. working with community and social services to alleviate and remedy the socio-economic conditions that place families at risk;
    2. developing and providing services and supports before and after intervention;
    3. proactively identifying groups of children the recognition and realization of whose rights may require MCFD to undertake special measures and develop special programming
  2. Replace the reference of prevention services in section 2(c) of the CFCSA, with a legislative provision that places a binding and measurable obligation on the Ministry to provide supports to keep families together who are at risk of having their children apprehended. The provision should place a positive obligation on the Ministry to take active efforts to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the child’s family. The courts must then be satisfied that these active efforts proved unsuccessful in keeping the family together.
  3. Expand the list of supports under section 5 to include:
    1. improving the family’s financial situation;
    2. improving the family’s housing situation;
    3. improving parenting skills;
    4. improving child-care and child-rearing capabilities;
    5. improving homemaking skills;
    6. drug or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation;
    7. providing child care;
    8. mediation of disputes;
    9. self-help and empowerment of parents whose children have been, are or may be in need of protective services; and,
    10. transition supports for families who have just had a child apprehended or returned.



Recommendations for improving financial supports

Recommendation 12: The provincial government must immediately raise welfare and disability rates to the Market Basket Measure (MBM), index them to the cost of living, and remove arbitrary barriers.


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