There are different ways in which child protection may be involved with a family. Child protection may be involved to investigate a report made to them about possible child abuse, neglect or harm to see if there is a problem.
If there is a problem, child protection may ask the parent(s) to accept services so that they can receive the help and support they need to parent. These are called ‘voluntary services.’ There may be friends or family members who can help in these situations too. If the situation is serious, the parent(s) may need to think about placing the children in ‘voluntary care.’ This is when the child protection services give a foster placement for the children while the parent(s) and/or children receive the help and support they need.
Friends or family members may be able to help by caring for the children in their home, with the agreement of the child protection agency.
In other situations, child protection may want parents to agree to services being put into place, without the children leaving the home. In these situations, the agency may want parents to sign a document called a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ which would set out what the expectations are, what services are being put in place, and so on. These arrangements are made without there being a court case.
If the situation is serious and the children are being harmed or are at serious risk of harm, then the child protection agency may remove the children from their parent(s)’ care, or require that the parents be supervised by them. In these cases, the agency must make a court application.
For more information about what happens when an application is made to court, please see the Child Protection Booklet - What you need to know when child protection takes your children into care. The booklet is also available in French: Ce que vous devez savoir lorsque les Services de protection de l'enfance prennent en charge vos enfants and Mi'kmaq: Ta'n nuta'q +kjijitun ta'n tujiw lkalkewaq wesua'la'tiji kinijink anko'tasinu.
PLEASE NOTE: These materials have been updated to reflect changes to the provincial Children and Family Services Act that went into effect on March 1, 2017. Individuals involved in child protection matters before the Courts should be aware that the ages and timeframes noted here have changed.
You are advised to consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.
The Court offers a video which is intended to help you understand what happens when the Child Protection Agency becomes involved in your family life. The video and the booklet that comes with it will answer some of your questions.What has happened? Where are your children? When can you see them? What can you do to make sure your family stays together? If your children have been taken into care, what do you need to do to have them returned to you?
To view the video in English, click here.
To view the video in Mi'kmaq, click here.
The video was produced with the collaboration of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Family Division, Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary, Nova Scotia Legal Aid, Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, Nova Scotia Department of Justice , with funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario. While financially supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario, the views expressed in this video production do not necessarily reflect the views of The Foundation.
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