Making agreements for your child's care

You can make different arrangements with the Ministry of Children and Family Development or a delegated Aboriginal agency if you need help to care for your child and reduce the strain on your family. The ministry or delegated Aboriginal agency can:

Family support services

Family support services can help you get through a rough time. If a situation arises and you’re unable to care for your child(ren) temporarily, the Ministry of Children and Family Development or delegated Aboriginal agency can provide you with some help. Examples of situations include trauma to you or your child, a serious illness, an accident, or a death in your family.

Support Service Agreements can be made with the Ministry of Children and Family Development or delegated Aboriginal agency for services that include:

  • Services for children and youth
  • Counselling
  • In-home support
  • Respite care
  • Parenting programs
  • Support services to children who witness family violence

Support service agreements can last for up to six months and may be renewed depending upon your situation.

Voluntary Care Agreement

The Ministry of Children and Family Development might offer to place your children in foster care on a voluntary and temporary basis. In this case, you sign a Voluntary Care Agreement with the ministry.

  • A Voluntary Care Agreement is a written agreement proposed when you face a crisis that leaves you temporarily unable to care for your children at home. For example, you may be the sole parent and need to enter the hospital or a treatment program.
  • A child protection worker makes sure that your situation meets the conditions for this agreement and explores all other options for the safe care of your child first. For more information about these conditions, see Child Protection Services in BC on the government website.
  • You'll work with staff from the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency to write out a plan for the earliest possible return of your children and for any support you might need to care for them.
  • The initial term of a Voluntary Care Agreement is usually for the least amount of time you need to recover from your crisis. It must be for three months or less for children under five years old, and six months or less for older children.
  • If you aren't able to care for your child after this initial time, the agreement can be renewed for a limited number of months based on the age of the child involved. The ministry's goal is to reunite children and families as soon as possible.
  • If possible, based on their income, parents contribute to the care of their child(ren) under a Voluntary Care Agreement.

Programs and Special Needs Agreement for children and youth with special needs

If your child has been diagnosed with a permanent or long-term severe or developmental disability or identified as at risk for developmental delay, you and your family may be eligible for extra assistance.

  • Contact your local Child and Family Services office and ask to speak to a Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) Worker to learn about available services and programs.
  • Through a range of programs, the ministry may provide services such as respite care, in-home support, autism funding, a child care worker, and nursing support.
  • The purpose of the programs and services is to support you to care for your child or youth in your family home. However, if an out-of-home arrangement is needed, you may be able to enter into a Special Needs Agreement.
  • For an agreement to be made, usually a doctor or other qualified professional must say that your child has an eligible condition. A CYSN Worker will help you explore all the available care and support options.
  • The first agreement can last for up to six months and may be renewed for 12-month periods.
  • Parents remain actively involved with their child(ren) and continue to be the legal guardians.
  • If possible, based upon their income, parents contribute to the care of their child(ren) under a Special Needs Agreement.

Important: If you want to make an agreement with the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency or are trying to reach an agreement, talk to a lawyer and/or an advocate. A lawyer or advocate can attend meetings with you, explain your rights, or help you negotiate with the ministry. Before you sign a written agreement, have a lawyer look over the agreement with you. See our Tips about making agreements for your child's care.

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