This article is geared toward Ontario, but the advice is helpful for any families working with Child Protection authorities anywhere.
Know your rights – 6 things you need to know to protect yourself and your child
(November 3, 2016). Retrieved from: http://aptn.ca/news/2016/11/03/know-your-rights-6-things-you-need-to-know-to-protect-yourself-and-your-child/
Any engagement with the child welfare system is traumatic and
apprehension is devastating. You’re stressed out, and so is your child.
While child care workers have a lot of power given to them by the
province, and in their eye they’re doing right by the law and your
child, they have to do things by the book.
Toronto area lawyer Katherine Hensel says there’s too much at stake
to be overwhelmed by it. She says you have to keep your head and focus
on what you need to do to get your child back.
Here are six points to keep in mind if you’re dealing with the system.
1. Get the documents from the society, they
have to serve you, they have to provide you with an explanation in
writing that’s also going to be filed with the court about why they are
apprehending your child. Look at those documents. Consider them. And get
a lawyer right away.
2. Make sure you find out when the court
date is. You have to go to that court date. And if you don’t, it may be
characterized as you don’t care enough or you’re not organized enough
to make it to court.
3. Get on legal aid funding, a certificate
or whatever province or territory you’re in. Make sure that you’re in a
position to find and retain a lawyer, before the first court date. That
is going to take a fair amount of work.
4. Look at the risks they say you pose.
That your life and your home pose to your children. Be honest with
yourself and sort out what you agree with and what you don’t agree with.
Take immediate steps to address, or to begin to address the risks that
you agree with and what you don’t agree with. Start to build evidence,
to contradict what the society says.
5. Don’t sign any agreements, unless you
completely agree that you cannot safely care for your child in the
present, because it may be difficult to go back from that. Don’t sign
any voluntary agreements without the advice of lawyer.
6. Engage with your First Nation or community, for whatever resources and support and advocacy that they can provide to you.