Proposed amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act underwent second reading in the House of Assembly today. The amendments would build upon the existing legislation by further enhancing service delivery to children and youth in need of protection in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The proposed amendments would:
- Clarify legislative authority to share information with the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Child Death Review Committee and the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Social Workers;
- Increase the involvement of Indigenous governments and organizations in decisions related to Indigenous children, youth and their families;
- Reduce impacts on court time while improving service delivery by allowing administrative flexibility where needed for transferring custody between managers;
- Support the least intrusive approach for children requiring protection; and
- Amend the definition of ‘foster parent’ to distinguish it from the definition of ‘care provider’ in the Federal Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis Children, Youth and Families.
Further details can be found in the backgrounder below.
The Children, Youth and Families Act was proclaimed in June 2019. Through its implementation, additional opportunities for improvement have been identified, and are now being advanced as amendments.
“The Children, Youth and Families Act brought significant improvements to our government’s approach to protecting the safety and well-being of children and youth in in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are committed to ensuring this legislation stays current and is responsive to our partners, while ensuring the best interests of children, youth and their families.”
Honourable John Abbott
Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development
– 30 –
Children, Seniors and Social Development
Proposed Amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act include:
These proposed amendments acknowledge that the best interests of Indigenous children and youth are best addressed through involvement of their Indigenous community in decisions relating to their care and protection.
- Indigenous Governments and Organizations would be able to designate more than one Indigenous Representative who can be heard in court matters and involved with case planning related to Indigenous children and youth.
- In addition to personally serving an Indigenous Representative, notice of court hearings may also be served upon an Indigenous Representative electronically by secure email or by leaving a copy of the notice in a sealed envelope at their office.
- The Nunatukavut Community Council has been added to the Schedule of Indigenous governments/organizations who may designate an Indigenous Representative to receive notification of court hearings and participate in case planning relating to Indigenous children and youth.
Jurisdiction of Managers/Transfer of Custody
These proposed amendments aim to reduce court time and will support the least intrusive approach for children requiring protection through more efficient operational processes.
- Allowing transfers of custody between managers by filing notices with the court instead of requiring an amended order will allow this action to be taken through an administrative approach, rather than having to appear in court.
- The amendments clarify that any manager can assume the responsibilities of another manager, for operational purposes, so that continuity of services and care for children and youth are not interrupted.
- An amendment would clarify that the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Child Death Review Committee and the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Social Workers will continue to receive the information they require to conduct their oversight work.
- An amendment will allow judges the discretion to grant interim orders prior to the conclusion of a protective intervention hearing so children in need of protection who have not been removed can continue to remain safely in their home.
Definition of a Foster Parent
- An amendment would revise the definition of foster parent to distinguish it from that of a “care provider” as defined in the Federal Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families. This is in keeping with the intention of the federal legislation, which came into effect after the Children, Youth and Families Act.