Child Protection Project Committee considers definitions and terms used in Child, Family and Community Service Act
September 25, 2019
BY Kevin Zakreski
BCLI’s Modernizing the Child, Family and Community Service Act Project benefits from having an expert project committee. After a pair of organizational meetings held in the late spring and early summer, the committee has drawn up a work plan, and settled into a monthly meeting schedule.
As part of its work plan, the committee has decided to focus its attention first on the aspect of this project that concerns a focused review of the Child, Family and Community Service Act to identify outdated provisions and operational incompatibilities and gaps within the statute. The starting place for this review has been the terms and legislative definitions used in the act.
A particular concern of this review has been the recognition that some of the terms used in the Child, Family and Community Service Act have begun to appear outmoded since the advent (in 2013) of British Columbia’s Family Law Act. Worse, a few terms—most notably, custody—have begun to take on negative connotations in family law. An updating of the Child, Family and Community Service Act’s terminology should help both to clarify the law and to improve its application in practice.
But there was also a recognition that, even though child protection can be seen as part of the broader area of family law, it also has some special features and concerns that might justify departures from the terminology used in the Family Law Act. The committee has been aware of the need to balance the movement toward harmonization with the need for some distinctive terminology, as it has reviewed such terms found in the act as custody, access, guardianship, and parent.
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 allow the public to comment on the committee’s proposals to modernize the Child, Family, and Community Service Act.