If Child Welfare (the Department of Community Services) is involved with you and your children, and you live in the Sydney area, you can get help from Nova Scotia Legal Aid even if you are not going to court.
Two things may happen. You can get confidential legal advice from a lawyer, or the Early Referral (ER) Mediation Process may work for you.
The ER Process is an upfront mediation process offered by the Department of Community Services, the Department of Justice and Nova Scotia Legal Aid. Nova Scotia Legal Aid will represent you and the Department of Justice will represent the social worker. You, your lawyer, and the social worker and their lawyer, will meet. This is called ‘Lawyer Assisted Case Conferencing.’ It is a type of mediation.
The goal of the ER Process is to help you as a parent understand at an early stage what is going on and help you make the right decisions for you and your children.
If you live in the Sydney area, you should consider ER if:
- you do not understand why Child Welfare is involved
- you are concerned about what might happen with your children
- Child Welfare staff are asking you to sign a document called a ‘Case Plan’
- Child Welfare staff are suggesting you voluntarily place your children in foster care or in the care of another family member
- Child Welfare wants you or your children to be assessed by a professional
- Child Welfare has requested you to do drug testing
If you have any questions about the ER Process, you can call Nova Scotia Legal Aid at (902) 563-2295, or ask your social worker with the Department of Community Services.
For more information about child protection, click here.