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


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.

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


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 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.

Substance use: Current MCFD approaches and recommendations for change

Recommendation 14: make specialized substance use consultants available to support families to develop timely safety planning including engaging and enabling the support of family members.

Recommendations for improving prevention-based efforts

Recommendation 21: The BC government and MCFD should work with Indigenous communities to fund and develop comprehensive services for families that are experiencing violence including services for abusive men and services for the entire family. These services should address intersecting needs including historical trauma, parenting skills, and substance use.

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