Being involved in a child protection matter with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (the ministry) or a delegated Aboriginal agency can be a stressful time in your life. You'll need lots of support so you can think clearly at meetings and court hearings.
People who can give you support
If a social worker from the ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency contacts you or visits your home, you might be under investigation. Call Legal Aid BC immediately to find out if you qualify for a free lawyer.
604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver)
1-866-577-2525 (elsewhere in BC)
You have the right to get legal advice.
Parents Legal Centres are Legal Aid BC services. A lawyer and an advocate will help you address the social worker's concerns about your children's safety. This service is available any time after the social worker contacts you.
To find out if a Parents Legal Centre is near you and if you qualify, see the Legal Aid BC website or call Legal Aid BC at the numbers above.
Having an advocate is also important. An advocate can help you understand the situation and your rights. They can't give you legal advice, but they can attend meetings and court hearings with you. They might also suggest other services and organizations that can give you support.
Mediation can help you to share your story, be heard, and reach an agreement with the social worker. You can ask for an Aboriginal mediator to help you with your family's cultural needs.
At meetings and court hearings
You might have to attend a lot of meetings and court hearings. These can be stressful, so do everything you can to prepare yourself for them.
Before a court hearing, be sure to eat well, even if you don't feel like it. Days in court can be long. Take water and snacks too.
Do your best to stay calm at meetings and in court. Breathing deeply can help.
You might see many different judges throughout the child protection process. Be prepared to tell each new judge your story and what you want for your child.
What you can do for yourself
Here are some other things you can do to cope with the stress:
- Try to surround yourself with people who can comfort and support you. They might be family members, friends, Elders, members of your community, and others you trust.
- Take care of yourself as best you can, with rest, exercise, and healthy food.
- Try to do things you enjoy to give yourself breaks from thinking about your situation.
Try to stay calm and patient. It'll be hard, but you can get through this. Be kind to yourself. Keep away from people who aren't kind to you.