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Families & Children

Updated:
November 27, 2020

Back to 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, middle and secondary students 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 back to school plan, including safety measures, orientation information and individual school district plans, see BC’s Back to School Plan.

See HERE for a summary of BC’s back to school plan. The plan has also been translated into 11 other languages: Arabic; Chinese (Simplified); Chinese (Traditional); Farsi; French; Hindi; Korean; Punjabi; Spanish; Tagalog; and Urdu.

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Updated:
November 27, 2020

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:
November 27, 2020

If you’re scheduled for a child protection case conference

Conferences will take place by phone or video on the date originally set. The court will contact you with details.

Child protection trials

 All family trials scheduled after July 3, 2020, will remain on the trial list on the date scheduled. Counsel and self-represented litigants should attend court in person on the date scheduled at 9:00 a.m. to tell the court if they’re ready to go ahead that day. The court will decide which trials will proceed. Witnesses and anyone who has a lawyer are to wait outside the courthouse (within a 30-minute distance) and be prepared to be called to attend court. Masks are mandatory for all courthouse attendees. 

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

The initial presentation hearing or protection hearing will go ahead at the scheduled time and day (or on the court “list day”) by phone.

If you aren’t sure whether you’re at a hearing or conference stage

Contact your social worker or lawyer to check if you need to attend court by phone or if court has been delayed. It’s really important you don’t miss your court hearing. If you don’t have access to a telephone, talk to your social worker or lawyer to figure out a solution.

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:
November 27, 2020

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:
November 27, 2020

At this stage of the pandemic, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has said in-person visits are permitted in these situations:

  • If in-person visits happened before March 26, 2020, you can continue them as long as you follow public health principles to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  
  • If in-person visits happened after March 26, 2020, you can continue them through regular case planning instead of by exception. These visits may increase depending on circumstances.

Social workers and the ministry have to review whether in-person visits are possible in some situations. See the MCFD bulletin for more details. To inquire further, visit the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC questions page or  Family Law BCQ&A - Parenting

Updated:
November 27, 2020

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:
November 27, 2020

You can still apply for a protection order.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:
November 27, 2020

If you, your child, or the other parent must be in self-isolation, a court is likely to agree that a child should stay where they are until the need for self-isolation has passed. Otherwise, in general, you must follow court orders for parenting time as long as it is safe and possible to do so. BC Family Law has provided updated guidance for when children should not go to their other parent. See the BC Family Law COVID-19 Q & A for Parenting. See what the courts have said about COVID and parenting HERE.

It is best that you and the other parent work out a solution together. Consider these guidelines for separated parents sharing custody during COVID-19 and see if you can come up with an arrangement that works. If you need help coming up with an arrangement, you can work with Family Justice Counsellors over the phone or online platforms. 

For more resources, Hannah DeJong, a family lawyer with Boughton Law, created COVID-19 Family Law Resources (BC), which includes general information and resources.

Updated:
November 27, 2020

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

Updated:
November 27, 2020

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.

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, 2021, 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, 2021.

Updated:
November 27, 2020

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:
November 27, 2020

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. 

Starting on July 2, 2020 and for a limited time as the Provincial Courts deal with the challenges of COVID-19, there is a new process to change a child or spousal support agreement or order of the Provincial Court. This process is only for situations where support needs to change because income has changed since January 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Other issues, such as parenting arrangements or changes to child or spousal support for reasons that are not related to COVID-19 will not use this process. Contact the Family Justice Services Division (FJSD) to schedule your individual needs assessment at 1-844-747-3963 or CSVariation@gov.bc.ca (BC-wide) or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). HERE is a guide for how to apply to change your support agreement. For more information, see the BC Government COVID-19 Legal Questions.

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:
November 27, 2020

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:
November 27, 2020

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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