By: Calgary Legal Guidance
CLG's Pre-Apprehension Child Welfare Program is aimed at providing legal advice and support to parents/guardians who are being reported to, investigated by, and/or engaging in pre-apprehension conversations or interventions with Children's Services. The program is also for parents and expecting parents who are concerned about Children's Services becoming involved with them and/or the potential for their children to be removed from their care.
The program will have a Summary Advice Clinic component, where volunteer lawyers will (with support from experienced lawyers) answer client questions, inform clients of their rights, and tell clients what they can expect from Children's Services. If necessary, the program lawyer will follow up with clients to offer further advice and support. The program will also have a Public Legal Education component where staff and volunteers will offer legal education for clients of our community partners, and training to community agency staff members on identifying and referring pre-apprehension matters that require legal support.
For parents and guardians facing Children's Services involvement, access to justice is incredibly important. In these cases, access to justice means (among other things): understanding your rights; understanding the rights of Children's Services; understanding how the Child welfare system works; and having access to legal information, advice, and support before your matter is being dealt with in the courts. Much like a person being accused of a crime, people facing potential apprehension of their children should have the right to consult with legal counsel and to thoroughly understand the legal and practical implications of the process they are in.
For example, parents/guardians should have access to legal information and advice when there is potential for their children to be involved in a “back door” apprehension. This is when Children's Services advises a family to move their children to a relative etc. in the absence of a formal apprehension or guardianship order. In these cases, knowing one's rights and obligations -- as well as the rights and obligations of Children's Services -- is important so that parents/guardians are not committing to an arrangement they do not understand; one with potentially dire consequences.
For more information or to volunteer for this new project, contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.