Children and Youth

I'm 13 and don't want to live with the foster parents I've been placed with. Can I move to another home?

The Rep can't step in and change a decision that has been made about you, but we can help you get your views heard and considered with the people who can make those decisions. You have a right live somewhere you feel safe, so if you do not feel safe in your new foster home, please contact us.

I live in a group home. Can you help get me a transfer?

If you are unhappy where you've been placed, the Rep's office can help you think of ways to solve a problem you may be having in your group home or can help you have your voice heard if you want to be moved.

My friend is being abused. What should I do?

You should call the Children's Helpline right away. Call 310-1234 (no area code), or dial 0 from any phone in B.C. to call the operator and ask for the Children's Helpline. The Rep can help children and youth in B.C. in many ways, but if you or someone you know is in danger and needs protection, it's best to tell someone you trust and get help as soon as you can.

I have been in the same foster home for three years, and now I have to move, but I don't want to. What should I do?

It might be possible for you to stay with your foster family, but each young person's situation is different. The Rep can help you figure out what is going on and can help you make sure the people making decisions about you know that's what you want.

I'm 16. I applied for a youth agreement and I'm not eligible. Can you help me get a youth agreement?

Contact us to learn more about youth agreements and how they work. We can help you figure out why you were not eligible and can help you talk to the people who made the decision so they know how you feel.

I am not a child in care. Do you only advocate for children in care?

No. Any child or youth can contact us and talk to someone who will determine if we are able to assist you.

I need braces and I have asked my social worker and have not received an answer yet. It’s been six months. Can you help me get the braces I need?

One of our advocates can help you by requesting that the social worker answer your question as soon as possible. The advocate will make sure that the social worker explains the decision, will help you to understand the answers to any questions you have and will explain the appeal process should you be told that you cannot get the braces.

My social worker told me I need to live with my auntie, but I don’t want to stay there. Can you help me find another place to live?

One of our advocates can listen to your concerns and assist you with having your voice heard and considered by your social worker. If you are still not happy with the social worker’s decision, an advocate can help you to file a complaint about the decision and ask that the decision be reconsidered. You do have a right to have your say about decisions that are being made on your behalf.

I live in a group home and I am turning 19 soon. Am I able to stay here, or do I have to move?

When you turn 19, you are no longer considered a child in care and you cannot typically live in a group home for children in care. One of our advocates can help provide information and discuss your options as you begin your transition out of care.

I am currently staying at a safe house and I don’t want to return home. Can you help me find a place to live?

A social worker within the Ministry of Children and Family Development will need to assess your situation to determine the reasons why you do not want to return home. If it is not safe for you to return home, the social worker can assist you in developing an alternative plan. Contact us to speak to an advocate if you are experiencing difficulties getting the services and supports you need from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

I am living with my foster parents and I really want to play soccer. They say they would like me to play, but the fees are too high. Can you help my foster parents pay the sporting fees for me?

As a child in care, your rights include the right to participate in social and recreation activities if available and appropriate, and according to your abilities and interests. Contact us to learn more about the rights of children and youth in care, and what to do if you feel you are being denied your rights.

I don’t feel like my social worker is listening to me. Where can I make a complaint?

Each region has staff known as “dispute resolution consultants” who listen to complaints and help resolve issues. You can find out how to contact the dispute resolution consultant for your region by asking your foster parent or caregiver, or by calling the Ministry of Children and Family Development customer service line at 1-877-387-7027. You can also contact us to get an advocate to assist you to connect with the dispute resolution consultant, or suggest other ways to voice your concerns.

Young Adults

Who is the Representative for Children and Youth?

Jennifer Charlesworth has been the Rep since October 2018. She works to make sure that the rights and opinions of young adults with developmental disabilities as well as children and youth in B.C. are valued first and foremost in decisions that impact them. 

What does the Rep do?

The Rep and RCY staff work to make sure young adults who are eligible to access Community Living BC services get the help they need. They listen to you and make sure your rights are respected whenever a decision that affects you takes place. The Rep and RCY staff can connect you with other available services and champions in your community, and will give you some tips to speak on your own behalf.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is helping someone have their voice heard and making sure their rights are respected.

Why should I call the Rep?

You may feel like you are not being heard, or may feel unsupported in your community. You may not be aware of the different types of services and supports available to you. The Rep’s Office works closely with government and wants to make sure that you are an informed and empowered decision-maker.

What can I expect when I call the Rep? What can you offer me?

You will be connected to a youth and young adult advocate who will listen to your situation and your needs. They can offer you support, assistance, information and advice, as well as coach you to have a voice with decision-makers. If needed, they can also speak on your behalf to make sure your opinions are valued in the decision-making process.

What information will be shared about me?

Any information gathered about you is confidential. While most of the Rep’s advocacy services are done over the phone, advocates can also come and meet you in person. 

What if I don’t trust the advocate?

Advocates are there to act on your behalf. The Rep’s Office doesn’t work for a Ministry or Community Living BC – it works for you.

Do I have to talk to the Representative’s Office by myself? Can someone call for me?

You can have a family member, friend, support worker or someone else you trust with you when you call the Rep. Otherwise, you can have that person call the Rep for you. For the fastest result, it is best to either call by yourself or have someone with you when you call. That way you will be connected with an advocate within one business day. Callers requesting advocacy services for you will be responded to within three business days.

Parents and Caregivers

My child was abused while in foster care; can I send you some information to investigate how the Ministry dealt with the allegation?

If your concern is about your child being abused in foster care, contact your child’s worker or call the Children’s Helpline. Reports to the Children’s Helpline are forwarded to a Ministry of Children and Family Development Office for assessment and investigation of abuse or neglect. If you have already called the Children’s Helpline and still have concerns, contact us to speak to an advocate who can help you follow up with your concern.

The social workers involved are not listening to me. I feel so frustrated, what can I do?

First, discuss your concerns with the team leader. If the problem persists, each region has a Dispute Resolution Office you can call to submit a formal complaint. Contact us for information, advice and support on the process.

I don’t like the dispute resolution consultant in my region; what can I do?

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the dispute resolution process, you have the option of taking your complaint to the Office of the Ombudsperson. Contact us for more information and assistance in using this process.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development does not return my calls. I even call the team leaders and they also do not return my calls. What can I do?

Social workers and team leaders have busy workloads and it may take them a while to get back to you. Be sure to leave them a voice mail, indicating the urgency of your call and when you called. If you are still frustrated by the lack of response from the social worker and team leader, contact us for assistance.

If I want to report a possible instance of abuse or neglect of a child in care, what do I do?

If you feel a child is in danger and requires protection, please call the Children’s Help Line at 310-1234 (or dial 0 and ask the operator to connect you) from anywhere in B.C. (no area code needed) to get help immediately.

What services can the Representative offer to my foster child?

Part of the Representative’s role is to ensure that the programs and services in place are meeting the needs of children and youth in B.C. She has the authority to monitor and review these services and make recommendations for change if necessary.

My daughter has special needs and is residing at a care facility out of the city. I would like her to be closer to home. Can you help her get a transfer to a closer care facility?

If your daughter is under 24 years of age and in a care facility, she may be receiving a service designated under the Representative for Children and Youth Act. Contact us and someone will be able to assess the type of assistance we may be able to offer.

My kids were apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Can you help me to get my kids back?

For matters before the court, you need to engage a lawyer to assist you. Our advocates cannot act as lawyers or give legal advice. We may be able to help you in other matters relating to the removal, however, such as visits with your children, accessing services and supports.

I am separating from my wife and she won’t let me share custody of our children. Can you help me gain custody of my children?

Custody and access situations are not designated services under our legislation. You should obtain the services of a lawyer in any legal matters. We may be able to refer you to other agencies that could assist you.

I am separated from my husband and the courts require my son to go see his father but he doesn’t want to go. Can you help my son’s voice be heard in the courts?

Under our legislation, the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth cannot assist in custody and access situations. You would need to talk to your legal counsel regarding how to get your son’s voice heard in court. We may be able to refer you to other agencies that could assist you.

I am concerned about my children’s safety when they are with their mother. Can you help me ensure their safety?

If you have a concern about your children’s safety, contact the Children’s Helpline at 310-1234, or by dialing 0 and asking for the Children’s Helpline. Reports to the Children’s Helpline are forwarded to a Ministry of Children and Family Development office for assessment and investigation of abuse or neglect. Ask to speak to the team leader or supervisor if you are unsure about the Ministry’s response to your concerns.