Child-protection committee examines selected protection issues at monthly meeting
April 21, 2020
BY Kevin Zakreski
At its April 2020 committee meeting, BCLI’s Child Protection Project Committee began consideration of a new topic: provisions in the Child, Family and Community Service Act concerning protection issues. The focus of the meeting was on the grounds for protection set out in section 13 of the act and on decisions relating to whether a child should remain in care.
The committee began by tackling the ground for protection relating to emotional harm (“the child is emotionally harmed by (i) the parent’s conduct, or (ii) living in a situation where there is domestic violence by or towards a person with whom the child resides”). This ground uses the present-tense verb “is,” in contrast to the preceding four grounds in section 13, which extend to the risk of future harms (“has been, or is likely to be”). Should the ground relating to emotional harm also embrace the future risk of emotional harm?
Next, the committee discussed the treatment of domestic violence in the grounds for protection. It is currently located in a sub-paragraph lodged within the ground relating to emotional harm. The committee considered whether domestic violence should be made a separate ground for protection.
Finally, the committee considered an aspect of decisions on whether a child who is in care should remain in care. Section 30 of the act provides, on the initial decision of whether a child should be placed in care, “A director may, without a court order, remove a child if the director has reasonable grounds to believe that the child needs protection and that (a) the child’s health or safety is in immediate danger, or (b) no other less disruptive measure that is available is adequate to protect the child.” Should the concept of no other less disruptive measure being available be extended from the initial decision to subsequent decisions on whether a child should remain in care?
The goal of the committee’s review is formulating tentative recommendations for law reform, which will be published in a consultation paper later in the project’s life cycle. The consultation paper will give the public the opportunity to comment on the committee’s proposals to modernize the Child, Family, and Community Service Act.