The Child, Family and Community Services Act gives the Government of British Columbia through its agents, police officers and social workers the right to remove children from our care and become temporary guardians of our children.

There can be a removal of children from a home without an actual formal apprehension for which the legal consequences are different but from the perspective of the parent it may feel very much the same.

The best thing to do if you receive a telephone call or a visit from a social worker is LISTEN to what is said, say very little and get legal advice immediately, optimally while the social worker is still there.

Counsel should try to speak to the officer or social worker and get some idea about allegations being made about you and the plans the authorities have for you and your children -Following the attendance of a social worker children may be removed  from your care in which case they are taken from your premises to foster care or perhaps placed temporarily with family. If the children are subject to less disruptive measures, the children may be permitted to stay in the home under certain conditions, sent to relatives or there may be no further action because the allegations are not supportable. In the latter situation, it may take time for the Ministry to formulae a position but it does happen that that matters are resolved the day they arise.

If it is an emergent situation (police are there with the social worker, for example) and the children are removed and there is no time to get legal advice, make sure you ask where the children are going to be taken, when you can see them and if they can go to relatives right away rather than any kind of interim placement.

DO NOT GET INTO A BATTLE with the authorities. It is difficult to be calm under those circumstances but the rational approach will always bear fruit in the long run. The Director has ALL the power. The smart way to deal with the power imbalance is to get strength by information: Make sure that you are told what the reasons for the attendance by the authorities are, what the reason for the removal is and then begin to systematically disassemble the allegations by accumulating evidence.


“Least Disruptive Measures” is a term from the Act that refer to a situation where the Ministry is involved but the children are not formally removed from your care. This may take a number of configurations but like removal, the social worker has the power to monitor you and your parenting and require you to fulfil various obligations on pain of removal. There is no court proceeding. Matters are dealt with out of court.


If the Director is apprehending your children, they will be physically removed from your care and you will be served with court papers for an appearance in court for a presentation no later than 7 days after the date of removal.

You must be notified for the reasons of removal.
It is very unusual that you will not be able to see your children after a removal from your care. At the very minimum you should be able to see your children in a supervised environment.
REMEMBER that your goal is to have your children returned. As unsavoury as it may be, if you cooperate (within limits of course which is why we have courts and why I am a litigator) you may achieve earlier success.

I do believe in making sure that the Ministry and their counsel do not take advantage of the power so amply conferred on the Director by the Act. If the Director will not let you see your children, then we take the Director to court. If the Director won’t reasonably return your children then we take them to trial. If the Director behaves unreasonably then we call them on it before a judge.

You need to be aware that it may take months to get a trial date and that a mediated resolution my be the most efficient, least expensive and least stressful of your options.

Happily, the Ministry is agreeing to more and more mediation referrals. I have recently had some excellent file resolutions using this method.

The Director generally asks that the parent(s) of a removed child take courses or counselling or undergo an assessment of some kind. Do not baulk at this right away.  While, very often, the starting requirements are far too onerous, we can sort that out in due course. It would be unwise if the first thing out of your mouth is “no way” (even if totally justified). It is better to say that you’ll think about it, talk to your lawyer or offer some intelligent and clever alternative.

I can say that my experience of over 20 years of practice in this area is that speedier, more satisfactory and healthier outcomes are achieved by an attitude of neutrality if not various degrees of cooperation by the client. It does not mean that you have to do everything the social worker says but that you need to engage in impression management and remain in control as much as possible and at all times. That’s where a lawyer comes in handy to run interference.

There may well be demands that you will want to resist because you feel that they are unwarranted or should be vetted by the court. A psychological assessment is a example of such a demand. Health or drug tests may be another. Extended supervised access is another. In those cases, the matter has to proceed to a hearing if the Director won’t back down.

Having a lawyer means that the lawyer can be the one to raise the unpopular issues, not you.

It is frequently forgotten the the Ministry of Children and Family Development provides family and children’s services that my help your family. Some examples are respite care, funding referrals, transportation financial assistance and so on. It may be that some help from your government may help you to manage and thus go  a long way to calming the Director’s concerns. If you find yourself involved with the Director, do not be afraid to ask about services.

Above all, don’t despair. Children are our most precious resource as a society and there is light at the end of the tunnel.