Child Welfare, Child Neglect and Guardianship
Our firm defends parents, guardians and foster parents in the often-complex litigation that involves the child welfare authorities. The day-to-day decision-making of Child and Family Services (CFS) is governed by statute. There are many things parents, guardians and foster parents can do to prevent the removal of a child, and to hold the child welfare authorities accountable for their decision-making.
Whether you are a parent, guardian or a foster parent, it is not uncommon to feel as though the government is not listening to your concerns, and/or is acting unreasonably. Our lawyers are skilled at navigating both the administrative review processes available to you under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act, and the various court processes which are likely to follow.
For foster parents: our firm represents foster parents all over the province. Decisions relating to foster children and placement often happen quickly, with very little notice to foster parents. Our firm is able to respond quickly in an effort to prevent hasty removals, and we have the expertise to make sure that the government is being accountable and transparent in their actions.
For parents and guardians: our firm defends parents facing the traumatic event of the removal of a child.
Few events are as traumatic as losing contact with your child.
Your children may be taken from you by the authorities if they feel that there are reasonable and probable grounds that their survival, security or development is endangered. This could be for a number of reasons, including child neglect, lack of access to medical treatment, physical or sexual abuse, out-of-control behaviour, or exposure to drug abuse, alcohol abuse and prostitution.
If your child is taken from you, we can help you understand what is going on and deal with what is happening. Our child welfare defence lawyers can explain your situation to the authorities and help you stay in contact with your child until you are able to bring him or her home.
Orders Imposed By The Court
Even if your children are taken from you, the court should try to respect your bond with them as much as possible, and interfere only as much as necessary to keep them safe.
If Children’s Services determines that you simply need support, you may enter into a Family Enhancement Agreement, cooperating with support workers to resolve family issues. You will undergo assessments, and receive help for issues such as addiction, mental health and family counselling. Workers will also help you access services available in the community and help you create strategies to deal with future problems. These plans generally last three months or less.
The court may impose the following orders:
- Supervision Order: Your children will be with you, with visits from child protective services to ensure their security and development for up to six months. You may also have to meet certain conditions, such as attending counselling.
- Temporary Guardianship Order (TGO): The court may believe that your children should be removed right now, but that they may be returned within a reasonable time, usually less than six to nine months, depending on their age. You may be asked to submit to a parenting or psychological assessment. You and your relatives may be able to visit your child under a TGO, at the discretion of the court.
- Permanent Guardianship Order (PGO): The court may believe that it is unlikely you will be able to care for your children within a reasonable amount of time. A permanent home will be arranged for the children, making an effort to match them to families that are similar in culture, family or social heritage. An adult who already has a relationship with the child — for example, a grandparent — can apply to become a guardian.
We can answer your questions about all of these orders and agreements, and help you decide whether you should appeal them or not.
Contact Calgary Family Law Associates
If you are a parent, guardian or foster parent and have questions about the child welfare authorities in Alberta, please contact us at 587-393-7850, or contact each lawyer individually. You can also fill out our online form.