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The Counsel for Children program may appoint a lawyer (counsel) for children and youth who are involved with the Ministry of Social Services or First Nations Child and Family Services agencies in proceedings under The Child and Family Services Act. Some examples include court proceedings following the apprehension of a child, variation of existing child protection orders, investigations leading to supervision orders, or negotiation of agreements to place the child with a person of sufficient interest.
The objectives of the Counsel for Children program are to:
The program can be accessed by court order or by referral. Referrals can be made by a child or youth, a child protection worker, a family member or anyone else who knows the child or youth. These people can make a request for a lawyer by filling out the Application to Request a Lawyer or contacting Children's Counsel at the number noted above.
In deciding whether to appoint a lawyer, the court or the Counsel for Children is to consider all relevant factors, including:
The Counsel for Children and the appointed lawyer are entitled to:
Failure to provide information/disclosure or allow access to the child/youth client can result in the Counsel for Children seeking a court order.
The lawyer will generally take instructions from the child or youth, and ensure the child or youth's voice is heard. There is no age limitation in the legislation on when a child or youth may be eligible for counsel.
Any lawyer who wants to be considered for an appointment must be a member of the roster and may fill out the Roster Application Form. More information on the roster can be found in the Counsel for Children and Youth Program Manual for lawyers.
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