The Director of Youth Protection (DYP) must intervene to protect a child in situations where his security or development is in danger. Most of the time, these situations are brought to the DYP’s attention by telephone. This is called “reporting” or “making a report”. A report must be made for the DYP to be able to assess a child’s situation and living conditions.
Steps Taken by the DYP
The steps taken by the DYP when a situation is reported are as follows:
Step 1: The report is received and processed
When the DYP receives a report, he assesses the situation briefly. Based on the information available at the time, he decides whether or not to accept or reject the report. He also uses this information to determine the degree of urgency of the intervention.
The report is rejected
The DYP may determine right away that there is no reason to accept the report. This can happen, for example, when the facts reported do not allow the DYP to intervene. The DYP then puts an end to the intervention. Even if a report is rejected, the child or his parents may need help. The DYP must provide them with information about the resources available in their community that can help them. If the parents and the child agree, the DYP must also put them in touch with these resources.
The report is accepted
If the DYP decides to accept a report, he does a more in-depth assessment of the situation.
Step 2: The child's situation is assessed
The DYP takes the following factors into account in his assessment:
- The nature, gravity, persistence and frequency of the facts reported
- The child’s age and personal characteristics
- The parents’ ability and willingness to correct the situation
- The community resources available to help the child and his parents.
After assessing these factors, the DYP determines whether or not the child’s security or development is in danger.
Immediate protective measures
If the child is in urgent need of protection, the DYP must take immediate protective measures. These measures apply for a maximum period of 48 hours.
Depending on the situation, the DYP may decide, for example:
- To remove the child from his family
- To place the child in the care of a family member, foster family or rehabilitation centre
- To limit contact between the child and his parents or with other people
If immediate protective measures are still necessary at the end of the 48-hour period, the DYP may suggest extending them. He may reach a provisional agreement with the parents for a maximum period of 30 days. The DYP does not have to apply to the court to reach a provisional agreement with the parents.
The parents or the child (if he is 14 years of age or over) may, however, refuse to consent to the DYP’s proposed provisional agreement. The DYP must then refer the matter to the court. The court will decide whether or not an extension of the immediate protective measures is necessary.
If the situation warrants it, the DYP may take immediate protective measures at any time during his intervention.
The child’s security or development is not in danger
The DYP may determine that the child’s security or development is not in danger. The intervention is brought to an end. However, the parents or the child may still need help. The DYP must provide them with information about the resources available in their community that can help them. If the parents and the child agree, the DYP must also put them in touch with these resources.
The child’s security or development is in danger
If the DYP establishes that the child’s security or development is in danger, he must intervene to protect the child.
Step 3: Protective measures are determined
Agreement on voluntary measures
The DYP can provide the parents with the help they need to protect their child without referring the matter to the court. The parents can reach an agreement with the DYP on the application of voluntary measures if they (and the child if he is 14 years of age or over) agree with:
- The DYP’s decision that the child’s security or development is in danger
- The measures proposed by the DYP to correct the situation
This agreement includes:
- A written undertaking between the parents, the DYP and the child (if he is 14 years of age or over)
- A description of the situation
- The measures needed to correct the situation
The term of the agreement on voluntary measures can be up to 12 months. When the agreement comes to an end, the DYP reviews the situation. In some cases, the agreement can be renewed or modified.
If the agreement is respected, the court’s intervention is not necessary.
Referral to the court
The child’s situation must be referred to the court in certain situations, for example:
- If the DYP considers that an agreement on voluntary measures is not appropriate
- If the parents do not think that their child’s security or development is in danger
- If the parents do not agree with the measures proposed by the DYP to correct the situation
In these cases, the court will decide whether or not the child’s security or development is in danger. The court makes its decision after hearing from all those concerned.
If the court establishes that the child’s security or development is in danger, it must also determine:
- What measures will be needed to correct the situation
- How long the measures will be applied for
This is called a “court order”.
Step 4: Protective measures are applied
Once there is an agreement on voluntary measures or a court order has been issued, the parents and the child meet with a youth protection caseworker on a regular basis. The caseworker helps them apply the protective measures needed to correct the situation.
Placement in out-of-home care
When the DYP or the court determines protective measures, their primary aim is to keep the child with his family. However, they may decide that the child needs to live in another environment.
In this case, the DYP or the court examines the possibility of placing the child in the care of people who are significant in his life, such as his grandparents or another family member. The DYP assesses their willingness and ability to take care of the child.
If placing the child with a significant person is impossible or inappropriate, the DYP will choose another placement based on the child’s needs.
The parents must pay a financial contribution towards the placement, based on their income, if:
- The child is placed with a foster family or in a rehabilitation centre
- The placement period exceeds 30 days
When a child is placed in out-of-home care, the decision as to whether or not he will be returned to his family must be made within a certain period of time. Different periods of time apply depending on the child’s age. They are called “maximum placement periods”.
The application of protective measures includes an intervention plan. The caseworker prepares the plan with the parents and the child.
The intervention plan sets out:
- The child’s and his parents’ needs
- The objectives
- The means that will be used
- The length of time services will be provided to the child and his parents
Individualized service plan
If help is needed from other resources (for example, the child’s school), protective measures may also include an individualized service plan.
These resources work with the parents and the child to identify the objectives and the services that need to be included in the intervention plan.
The parents have primary responsibility for their child even if the child’s situation is being monitored by the DYP. Their opinion is important when determining what measures are needed to correct the situation and their involvement is crucial.
The parents must be given a copy of the intervention plan and individualized service plan, if any.
Step 5: The situation is reviewed
Whether or not the child has been placed in out-of-home care, the DYP must review his situation regularly. The DYP may then decide to:
- Put an end to his intervention if the child’s security or development is no longer in danger
- Propose a new agreement on voluntary measures or refer the situation to the court
- Revise the protective measures chosen
Step 6: The intervention is brought to an end
The DYP’s intervention ends:
- If the report is not accepted
- If the child’s security or development is not considered to be in danger or is no longer in danger
- When the child turns 18
Step 7: The DYP acts as liaison with resources
When the DYP puts an end to his intervention, the parents and the child may still be in need of help. If so, the DYP must help them. He can do so in various ways:
- He must provide them with information about the resources available in their community that can help them and tell them how to access them
- If the parents agree, he must also:
- Advise them and personally refer them to these resources by making the initial contact
- Forward any relevant information about their situation to the resource(s) in question
Parents' and Children's Rights
The child and his parents have rights throughout the DYP’s intervention. The main ones are as follows:
- Right to be consulted at every step of the intervention and about potential solutions.
- Right to be informed by the DYP about:
- what the intervention involves, step by step
- the protective measures chosen to correct the situation
- Right to have their point of view heard by the DYP and in court.
- Right to consult a lawyer and to be assisted and represented by him.
- Right to refuse to accept some of the decisions made by the DYP if they disagree with them. In this case, the matter may be referred to the court.
- Right to receive appropriate health and social services.
- Right of the child to receive appropriate educational services.
- Right to be supported and assisted by a person of their choice if they wish to obtain information or when meeting with the DYP.
Right to access the child’s record by the parents, except in special cases. Right of a child who is 14 years of age or over to access his record himself.
Last update: 15 February 2018, 09:26