During the Initial Custody period with respect to a child who has been apprehended, the Director of Children’s Services must assess the potential for the child to be returned home. In some cases, the Director may allow the child to return under a Supervision Order. If however, the Director determines that the home environment is not yet an appropriate environment for the child, they will proceed with an application for either a Temporary or a Permanent Guardianship Order.
As with other stages in the child protection process in Alberta, parents or guardians have the right to oppose a Director’s application with respect to their child. If you have been provided with notice that the Director has filed an application for a Temporary Guardianship Order (“TGO”) over your child, the lawyers at Mincher Koeman can help. We have considerable experience working within the child protection system in Alberta and have assisted a number of families in opposing various applications of the Director. Our lawyers are often sought out by colleagues for advice or services pertaining to child protection, and they have even been asked to provide opinions to courts in the UK on child protection matters in Canada, including on how these matters impact families.
The Director may determine that it is likely the child may be returned to the care of their family after a reasonable period of time, once support services have been provided to the child and the family. In this case, the Director will seek a TGO with respect to the child. While the Director has temporary guardianship, services will be provided to the child and to the child’s guardians while the child resides in foster care. Foster care may be provided by the Government of Alberta through their paid Foster care providers or by relatives of the family through kinship care.
The Director will apply to the court for a TGO pursuant to Section 31 of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. A TGO appoints the Director as a guardian of the child until a final determination is made with respect to the child. During the term of the TGO, the Director and the child’s guardian are joint guardians. TGOs are typically granted for 6 months but may be granted for shorter periods.
A TGO can be granted in Docket Court or after a hearing. A court may include terms in a TGO with respect to:
Children over the age of 12 years old must give consent to any access ordered by the court.
Section 32 of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act allows the Director, a child or a guardian to apply to the court to review, renew, vary or terminate a TGO. The court will consider whether the circumstances that caused the child to be in need of intervention have changed, whether the guardians have complied with the TGO and whether appropriate services have been provided.
The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act specifies the total cumulative time that a child may be in the care of the Director. This varies depending on the age of the child. For instance, children under the age of 6 can be in the care of the Director for up to 9 months while children over the age of 6 can be in the care of the Director for up to 12 months. However, the court may grant a further TGO if the Director continues to be of the opinion the child can be returned to their guardian within a reasonable period of time and there are good and sufficient reasons to grant a further TGO.
As with Supervision Orders, a parent or guardian has the right to oppose a Director’s request for a TGO or request the termination of an existing TGO. At Mincher Koeman, our family lawyers have extensive knowledge relating to all aspects of child protection in Alberta and can advise and represent clients at every stage of the process. If you would like to oppose or terminate a TGO with respect to your child, please contact our office to discuss your options by calling us at 403-910-3000 or by contacting us online.
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