Information for Children in Care
Coming into government care can be a very difficult experience for most children and youth. It can be a sad and confusing time, even when children and youth are in safe and caring foster homes. To assist young people in dealing with some of the challenges of being in care, on this page children and youth (along with their foster parents) can find useful links to supportive resources, as well as information regarding their rights as children in care.
If you are a young person in care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and need to make a complaint about decisions impacting you, please click here to review the process.
Rights of Children in Care
All young people in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development have rights. These rights are set out in a law called the Child, Family and Community Service Act. Young people's rights apply whether they are in care under an agreement between their family and the ministry, or under a court order. And they apply no matter which foster parent children and youth live with, or whatever resource they are placed in. Children and youth should read their rights carefully. If there is anything they do not understand, they should ask their caregiver, social worker or anyone else they trust to explain their rights to them.
Children and youth in care (in British Columbia) have the following rights:
- To be fed, clothed and nurtured according to community standards and to be given the same quality of care as other children in the placement;
- To be informed about their plans of care;
- To be consulted and to express their views, according to their abilities, about significant decision affecting them;
- To reasonable privacy and to possession of their personal belongings;
- To be free from corporal punishment;
- To be informed of the standard of behaviour expected by their caregivers and of the consequences of not meeting their caregivers' expectations;
- To receive medical and dental care when required;
- To participate in social and recreational activities if available and appropriate and according to their abilities and interests;
- To receive the religious instruction and to participate in the religious activities of their choice;
- To receive guidance and encouragement to maintain their cultural heritage;
- To be provided with an interpreter if language of disability is a barrier to consulting with them on decisions affecting their custody or care;
- To privacy during discussions with members of their families, subject to subsection;
- To privacy during discussions with a lawyer, the Child, Youth and Family Advocate, the Ombudsman, a member of Parliament;
- To be informed about and to be assisted in contacting the Child, Youth and Family Advocate;
- To be informed of their rights under this Act and the procedures available
For more in-depth information regarding rights of youth in care, download the brochure Know Your Rights or the booklet This is me and I Have Rights for children ages 3 to 8.
Are there other youth in care like me?
Yes. If you would like to connect with other youth in care, consider contacting the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks. It is a provincial organization run by young people in and from care to help other young people in and from care. The federation is made up of many local groups, or networks, across BC. Anyone aged 14 to 24 who is, or has been, in care can join. Membership gives you a chance to meet other young people in and from care, to exchange ideas, share common problems and explore options.
The federation also gives youth in and from care a collective voice to address issues at the provincial level. The Ministry of Children and Family Development recognizes that young people have a right to provide input into policies and programs that affect them, to present their ideas and issues, and to be listened to and heard. The federation works with the ministry to help improve conditions for young people in care by promoting their views and concerns.
To find out more about the local network closest to you, call the federation's toll-free number from anywhere in BC at 1 800 565-8055 or check out the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks website.
If You Need Help
The following resources are in place to help children and youth.
Helpline for Children - If you are a child in BC that needs help, call the helpline at 310-1234 (no area code needed) at any time - day or night. There is always a social worker at the end of the telephone willing to listen, someone to take action, someone who cares.
Kids Help Phone is a national, bilingual, 24-hour toll-free confidential phone counselling, referral and internet services for children and youth or their parents in English and French. Contact the Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868.
The Crisis Centre provides British Columbia crisis line numbers and related links and resources. Centre for Suicide Prevention lists crisis lines in various regions of British Columbia and provides related sites in other provinces and territories.
The Representative for Children and Youth supports children, youth and families who need help in dealing with the child welfare system, and advocates for change to the system itself. Telephone 1 800 476-3933.
SafeKidsBC provides telephone helpline and extensive resources on preventing child abuse in your community for children and teens. Includes links to child protection services across Canada.
Other Resources for Youth In Care
Scholarships - Young people who are between their 19th and 24th birthdays, who were in permanent government care, and who are eligible for the BC Student Assistance Program through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology. Youth in care may be eligible for scholarships or bursaries.
Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) - Youth who were in care at age 19 or on a "Youth Agreement" may be eligible for assistance if they want to pursue an education, training or rehabilitation program. Assistance can include financial help with living expenses and training/education costs.
Useful Tips for Youth & Young Adults – A Guide to Independent Living: Leaving government care can be exciting and difficult at the same time. This book has useful information for youth on their way to independence.