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reforms that will modernize the Act’s language, enhance procedural protections
and support children’s rights.
BCLI formed the Child Protection Project Committee in 2019. The project
committee was made up of leading lights on child protection in British
Columbia, including lawyers, social workers, and members of government
ministries and oversight bodies.
The committee has met 19 times over the course of the project. At these
meetings, the committee has closely examined the Child, Family and Community
Service Act and considered options for reform.
With the publication of its “Consultation Paper on Modernizing the Child,
Family and Community Service Act” in the fall of 2020, the committee began
a broad public consultation. The committee made a concerted effort to
engage people who are particularly affected by the legislation, including
through Indigenous leadership groups and communities.
The committee considered the responses it received in the public consultation
and settled its final recommendations in late 2020 and early 2021.
In making its recommendations for reform, the committee was aware
that child protection is in flux. A series of reports have already made the
case for reforms to the Child, Family and Community Service Act and the
broader child protection system. Further reforms will be needed to respond
to federal legislation on child welfare for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children
and families. The committee’s recommendations were deliberately
designed to play a complementary role to these reforms. They may be
implemented by discrete amendments to the current Act or as part of a
broader package of reforms.
Among the report’s highlights are recommendations to:
• enhance disclosure to children and families;
• expand the circumstances that call for acknowledgment of a person’s
right to independent legal advice;
• modernize the language of the Act by doing away with outdated
terms such as “custody”; and
• clearly set out in the statute children’s rights to participate in court
proceedings and have access to legal counsel.
The Modernizing the Child, Family and Community Service Act Project is
carrying on as the committee works to finish a study paper addressing
youth aging out of the child protection system and into the community.
BCLI thanks the Ministry of Attorney General and the Law Foundation of
British Columbia for generously providing funding for these projects.
Please visit the BCLI website at <www.bcli.org> to download copies of