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Families & Children

Updated:
May 28, 2021

Safe school plans for K-12 families are now posted for all 60 school districts, so parents and families can prepare to support their children for a safe return to the classroom. Families should visit their school district website to view their local school’s plans.  

Each school district plan follows the same strict provincial health and safety measures co-developed with the provincial health officer, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Education. School districts are adapting their schedules and learning groups to fit within those measures based on student population and local consultation with education partners, parents and Indigenous rightsholders.

Every day, school districts are prepared to welcome all students to elementary and middle schools. For secondary schools, timetables have been modified to adhere to the health and safety requirements and ensure that all students can attend most days, with much of their instruction occurring in-class. 

The health and safety measures that all school districts will follow include:

  • masks will be required for staff, and students grades 4 to 12, in high-traffic areas, such as buses, and in common areas, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons);
  • even when wearing a mask, staff and students will still be required to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group;
  • increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces;
  • increased hand hygiene with all students, staff and visitors;
  • school districts may also install transparent barriers for people who have more contact with others, such as front-desk staff, bus drivers or food services staff; and
  • staff and students (or their parents/guardians) must also assess themselves daily for illness, including symptoms of COVID-19. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms, arrangements will be made for that person to return home.

For BC’s complete safe school plan, including safety measures and individual school district plans, see BC’s Back to School Plan.

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Updated:
May 28, 2021

If your family trial was adjourned and hasn’t been rebooked, you must either rebook the trial dates or schedule a Judicial Management Conference (JMC) to be heard by phone.


See Family Law BC for instructions on how to rebook a trial or schedule a JMC to be heard by phone.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

If you’re scheduled for court

All court proceedings, except trials, are currently being held virtually, by telephone or by video conference through the online platform MS Teams. Even though you may be attending court virtually, you're still expected to follow courtroom etiquette. This means that during your court proceeding, you're expected to dress appropriately (if you are attending by video), and you're not allowed to smoke or vape, or to eat or to drink any liquids other than water. 

If you're calling into court through telephone conference or MS Teams, make sure to mute yourself while waiting for your court matter to be dealt with.

The Provincial Court website has a guide to video and telephone conferences. The court links for calling in to attend court are the same as for regular list days. If you're unsure of the call-in information, you can contact the court registry in advance of your court date to ask for it. See the Provincial Court website to find contact information for each court registry.

Child protection trials

At this time, all child protection trials are taking place in person at the designated courthouse (unless you're told differently by the court). Arrive early at the courthouse on your trial day. All people entering the courthouse will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms, so there may be a line up. Once you're in the courthouse, a sheriff will tell you where to wait for your trial. Limited numbers of people are allowed in court rooms, so follow the sheriff's directions and wait in the approved areas.

If your child has been removed and you have a date for a court hearing

If your child has been removed, your matter will be scheduled to appear in court within 7 days of the removal. This first court appearance, called a presentation hearing, will go ahead at the scheduled time and day (or on the court list day) by phone or by MS Teams. Call-in information for each list day is the same for each courthouse. If you have the call-in information and your matter is going to proceed on another day, the call-in information will be the same (unless court staff tell you otherwise).  

If you aren’t sure what type of court appearance you have

Contact your social worker or your lawyer to check for any upcoming court dates. It’s important to not miss your court hearing. If you don’t have access to a telephone, talk to your social worker or lawyer to find a solution. In some courthouses, court rooms are open to people to attend in person; although it's recommended that you call in or attend by MS Teams.

If you need help with your case

No matter which stage you’re at in the child protection process, you can get help. If there's a Parents Legal Centre in your community, call them to get help by phone. These centres have free lawyers and advocates to help parents deal with a social worker's concerns about their children's safety. Or call the Legal Aid BC Call Centre for where to find legal aid services in your community.


If you still have questions, contact aboriginal@lss.bc.ca.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

First Nation youth won't age out of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government announced it will cover the costs for First Nations child and family services agencies to continue to support youth who are in the on-reserve system. To inquire further, visit the Aborigial Legal Aid in BC questions page

Updated:
May 28, 2021

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is still providing in-person visits during the pandemic. The length and frequency of your visits will depend on several factors, including whether your visits need to be professionally supervised, supervised by a family member, or can occur in the community or your family home.

In many communities, there are fewer spots available for professionally supervised visits because of increased cleaning protocols and decreased capacity due to safety protocols. MCFD continues to follow public health policies and restrictions to decrease everyone’s potential exposure to COVID-19.

Public health restrictions are still changing and may vary between communities. Your social worker will assess how visits will continue to occur safely. It's important that you talk to your social worker or lawyer to determine how you'll see your children and to advocate for more access. 

To inquire further, visit the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC questions page or the ministry's COVID-19 page on the provincial government website.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

The Provincial Court will now accept unsworn or unconfirmed affidavits as part of your family application. Be very careful that your affidavit is true and accurate as you would with a sworn affidavit, as the judge will likely ask you to swear the contents of the affidavit are true if you get a hearing.  A judge or justice may later require sworn evidence and will adjourn the matter to another date for an in-person hearing. See the Provincial Court’s Announcement and the Notice to the Profession and Public for more details.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

You can still apply for a protection order. See Protection Orders During COVID-19 for additional support. The procedure is a little different because of COVID-19. Learn more about Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders.

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911.

How to apply

Provincial Court: Provincial Court family court filings, including protection orders,can be made by email, mail or fax. The Provincial Court is returning to the pre-COVID process for bringing matters before the court.

Family Law BC also provides a wonderful step-by-step guide for applying for a protection order.

Supreme Court: In-person registry services have resumed at all Supreme Court registries in British Columbia. While in-person filing is available, parties are strongly encouraged to use e-filing, or one of the other methods. See Notice No. 34 (Civil and Family) for more details. See Notice No. 24 for how to e-file through Court Services Online. 

Both the Provincial and Supreme Court returned to their pre-COVID process for hearing urgent matters. The COVID-19 Urgent Application forms have been discontinued. All new applications can be submitted to the courts.

See the BC Family Justice’s COVID -19 Legal Questions and BC Family Law’s Q & A - Family Violence for more information and direction.

BC family duty counsel is providing service over the phone. To find contact information in your area see HERE.

For more information, see: 

Updated:
May 28, 2021

Essential workers can request childcare for children under 12 years old. Go  HERE for more information and to apply.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

Families who receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive an extra $300 per child. There is no need to reapply if you are already receiving the benefit. This will be delivered at the same time you would normally receive the CCB. For a full list of Federal benefits go to the Federal Economic Response Plan.

Eligible families can also apply now for the BC Recovery Benefit, a one-time, tax-free payment of up to $1,000 for eligible families and single parents and up to $500 for eligible individuals. You have until June 30, 2021 to apply. See HERE to apply.

BC Families eligible to receive MCFD Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) Family Support Services prior to March 30, 2020 were eligible to request emergency relief funding. A final round of the short-term Emergency Relief Support fund for CYSN was available from July 1 - September 30, 2020 and has now expired. Until March 31, 2022, families who receive Direct Funding/At Home Program basic respite can continue to use their respite funding in a flexible manner. Families do not need to provide a record of respite expense forms for agreements expiring before March 31, 2022.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

This is a challenging issue. BC Family Law states that if you and your child are required to self-isolate, the courts are likely to agree that the child should stay with you until your period of self-isolation is over. Otherwise, you must follow the court order. BC Family Law has provided updated guidance for when children should not go to their other parent.

It is best if you and your co-parent work out an agreement during this time. There are free mediation and coaching services through Legal Aid BC. Legal aid and duty counsel are currently available by phone only. The courts are currently only taking urgent application by phone, including urgent matters regarding parenting time. 

For more information, and for help with your family law matter, go to the Parenting Q & A on the BC Family Law website or see Family Justice Services COVID-19 Legal Questions. Hannah DeJong, a family lawyer with Boughton Law, created COVID-19 Family Law Resources (BC), which includes general information and resources.The federal government has also provided Parenting during COVID-19 resources. 

This video discusses parenting time issues during COVID-19: COVID-19 and Family.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

Agreements and court orders relating to child and spousal support continue to apply. The terms of an agreement or order are not automatically changed or paused because of the current Coronavirus situation. If someone stops or reduces support payments, the amount owing will accrue as arrears until the agreement or the court order is changed. 

If you would like to come to an agreement on your own, you can enlist the help of mediators or other professionals to help you come to a temporary agreement. Mediate BC has a new program for people dealing with conflict resulting from quarantine or isolation. Family Justice Services will continue to provide a full range of services to citizens through telephone and other virtual service options until further notice. Services include dispute resolution. See the BC Family Law Q & A -Support for more information and for more resources.

If you are registered with FMEP you are still responsible for making payments. If you can no longer make full payments it is important that you contact your case manager as soon as possible. You can do so by signing into your web account and sending a web message. See FMEP’s March 19, 2020 notice for more information.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

Provincial Court family court filings can be made by email, mail or fax. The Provincial Court has returned to the pre-COVID process for bringing matters before the court.

Child protection (CFCSA) presentation hearings and protection hearings are urgent and will proceed by telephone on the day they are scheduled. The COVID-19 Notice No. 19 explains which matters will be held by telephone or video-conference and which matters will require in-court attendance. The only matters that will be heard in-person are trials, unless otherwise ordered by a judge.

It is always best if you and the other party can work out the issue on your own. If that is not possible, there are professionals who can help you work out the issues. 

Mediate BC has a new program for people dealing with conflict resulting from quarantine or isolation. 

Family Justice Services will continue to provide a full range of services to citizens through telephone and other virtual service options until further notice. Services include dispute resolution. 

If you cannot agree and the matter is urgent, family court filings can be made by email, mail or fax. A judge will first determine whether your matter is urgent and then your application will be heard by phone. For more information, see the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public for guidance on how to make the application. See the Family Law BC website for family law resources and help during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis.

Updated:
May 28, 2021

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911, or call your community police. You can also call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808. You can search BC Housing for a list of shelters near you. Battered Women Support Services is still operating during the crisis and can talk to you by phone (604-687-1867 or toll-free at 1-855-687-1868), text (604-652-1867) or email (intake@bwss.org) to provide emotional support and help you make safety plans. 

Legal Aid and Duty Counsel are still available by phone. You can find their contact information and other family law resources here.

Although the Provincial Court and Supreme Court are returning to their pre-COVID process, they will still hear urgent applications, particularly where the application involves immediate personal safety. See the Provincial Court’s COVID-19 FAQs and the Supreme Court’s  Notice to the Professions and Public and Urgent Hearing Form for instructions on how to make an urgent application. Click here for all BC Supreme Court updates.

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