Removing Foster Children
This section contains provincial policy and standards pertaining to removal of a foster child from a foster home. It applies to child and family services agencies and their mandating authorities and to licensed foster homes.
Subsection 2(1) of The Child and Family Services Act defines best interests of a child and lists criteria that must be considered in making a decision about a child. Other than proceedings to determine whether a child is in need of protection, the best interests of a child must be the paramount consideration. Subsection 8(1) requires foster homes to be licensed (see Section 1.5.2, Licensing and Licensing Appeals).
Section 51 of the Act pertains to the removal of a child in care from the person with whom the child was placed.
The Foster Parent Appeals Regulation sets out the procedures and timelines for removing a child under section 51 of the Act. The table below highlights procedures and timelines for foster parents, the placing agency and the agency’s mandating authority.
Procedures and Timelines for Removal of a Child from a Foster Home
Sections 10 and 11 of the regulation pertain to the appointment of adjudicators. Sections 12 through 20 apply to procedures and timelines with respect to adjudication hearings and decisions.
Reasons for Removing a Foster Child
A decision to remove a child from a placement must be based on the best interests of the child. A balanced approach is needed, considering all relevant factors listed in subsection 2(1) of The Child and Family Services Act. Both agency staff and care providers are expected to focus on the needs of the child.
Section 51 of the Act reflects the important role foster parents play in the care of children in care. It applies when a foster parent objects to a decision to remove a child. Foster parents have a right to request a review of a placing agency’s decision to remove a foster and a reconsideration of an agency’s decision by its mandating authority, and to appeal the decision of an authority to an adjudicator appointed by the minister. Unless the criteria listed in subsection 51(2) of the Act apply, a child remains in a foster home until a final decision is made according to this section.
Section 51 does not apply when a foster parent does not object to the removal of a child. However, the best interests of a child remain the paramount consideration. Appropriate reasons for removing a child include but are not limited to the following:
Unless there are child protection concerns that necessitate immediate removal, pre-planning and involvement of the licensing agency are essential in reducing the need for abrupt moves of children from foster homes.
Section 4(1) of the Foster Parent Appeals Regulation requires an agency to offer alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in writing within seven days of receiving a request from a foster parent to review a decision to remove a child. Agencies are required to have written ADR policies and procedures developed in consultation with their mandating authorities. The regulation allows agencies and mandating authorities to employ culturally appropriate approaches to ADR.
ADR is defined as a non-adversarial way of resolving disputes. It is an alternative to resolving a dispute through an administrative or adjudicative process. It looks at needs, interests, and solutions, and can promote healing. It must be voluntary, timely, confidential, balanced, fair and respectful. When a dispute is resolved through ADR, there is no need for the remaining steps of the appeal process described under Legislation in this section.
In addition to resolving the dispute between the placing agency and the foster parents, ADR may also result in a better understanding of the strengths of the home by the case manager and, when applicable, acceptance by the foster parents of an agency’s decision to remove a child.
Foster parents, agencies, authorities and the Child Protection Branch have a statutory obligation to act in the best interests of a child. In the context of section 51 of The Child and Family Services Act and the Foster Parent Appeals Regulation (see Legislation in this section), best interests requires all parties involved to follow timelines in the Act and regulation and to expedite the process.
In addition to the specific timelines in regulation, the standards in this section require all parties to a section 51 review to adhere to reasonable response times. Delays may be necessary. For example, the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process may require more time pending a child protection investigation or when a child protection investigation is ongoing.
When there is undue delay caused by an agency, a foster parent has the option of complaining to the agency’s mandating authority under clause 4(1)(f) of The Child and Family Services Act (see Section 1.7.3, Complaint Review Process).
There are several references in the Foster Parents Appeals Regulation to a form or forms approved by the director (Child Protection Branch). The branch has not developed specific forms for foster parents to complete. However, to comply with the regulation, foster parents are required to submit requests for reviews, reconsiderations and appeals in writing.
The policy statements in this part are based on and complementary to the duties of agencies set out in the Foster Parent Appeals Regulation.
Informing Foster Parents – When serving notice on foster parents under subsection 2(2) of the regulation, placing agencies must inform them on how to initiate reviews, reconsiderations and appeals and where to send written requests and appeals.
Informing and Involving Managing Agencies – When the foster home is managed by another agency (see definition of managing agency under Terminology in 1.5.0), a placing agency may rely on an assessment by and recommendations from the managing agency in making a decision to remove a foster child. The placing agency must inform the managing agency of its decision and involve the managing agency as necessary in planning for the removal (see Managing Agency Responsibilities below).
Informing and Involving Licensing Agencies – When the foster home has been licensed by another agency, the placing agency must provide information on its decision and the outcome to the licensing agency in a timely manner. It is the responsibility of the licensing agency to consider whether a review of the foster home licence is indicated (see Licence Suspension or Cancellation below).
When a foster home is managed by an agency or service organization on behalf of a licensing agency (see Managing Agencies in Section 1.5.1, Resource Management), responsibilities of the managing agency with respect to a placing agency’s decision to remove a foster child include the following:
Foster parents have a right to appeal a decision to remove a child under section 51 of The Child and Family Services Act and the Foster Parent Appeals Regulation without fear of their licence being suspended or cancelled.
Suspension or cancellation of a foster home licence should not be considered unless the child is found to be in need of protection or section 15 of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation applies. The decision to remove a foster child is a separate process specific to the best interests of the child.
The amended care plan must be approved and signed off by the case manager, the supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor. When the supervisor’s supervisor is the chief executive officer or executive director of the agency, an alternate will be approved by the authority in writing due to actual or perceived conflict of interest should an agency be required to review the decision to remove the child from foster parents (section 51 of the Act). This provides an additional level of review of the plan to move a child, and will strengthen good case planning for children.
No child is to be moved from a foster home placement without such a care plan, except where criteria listed in subsection 51(2) of The Child and Family Services Act applies and requires the immediate removal of a child or where the court has ordered a child to be moved.
If the decision is to proceed with removing the child, the case manager prepares the documentation required under subsection 2 of the Foster Parent Appeals Regulation.