Understanding the Extended Family Program

If a social worker from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (or a delegated Aboriginal agency) takes your child from your home because you're temporarily unable to take care of them, you can ask to have family or friends care for them. This means that instead of going into foster care, your children will stay with someone they know. You can arrange for this through an Extended Family Program agreement. (These are sometimes called EFP agreements.)

Important: If a social worker from the ministry (or a delegated Aboriginal agency) contacts you or visits your home, you have the right to get legal advice. If the social worker has serious concerns, they may take your child from your home. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out of you qualify for a free lawyer.

Legal Aid
604-408-2172
(Greater Vancouver)
1-866-577-2525 (no charge outside Greater Vancouver)

Ask your lawyer or social worker about getting an Aboriginal child protection mediator to help with your case.


About the Extended Family Program

The Extended Family Program is a government program. The Ministry of Children and Family Development runs the program.

The program allows your children to be placed with someone they know if you're temporarily unable to take care of them. This means that if a social worker takes your children from your home (or is going to take them), you can ask the social worker to place them in the care of:

  • a family member,
  • a friend who has an important relationship with them, or
  • someone who has a cultural or traditional connection to them.

The program's goal is to return your children to you when possible.

How can the Extended Family Program help my family?

The Extended Family Program:

  • gives your children a living arrangement that's less upsetting for them while you're unable to take care of them,
  • is an alternative to foster care,
  • builds on the strengths of your family and community, and
  • can give your children's caregivers financial help and other support services.

Caregivers

The person looking after your children is called their caregiver.

Your children will be placed with their caregiver through an Extended Family Program agreement (sometimes called an EFP agreement).

Not everyone is eligible for the program:

  • If your children are already with a caregiver who has court-ordered custody or guardianship of them, their caregiver isn't eligible.
  • If your children were previously with a caregiver under the Child in the Home of a Relative program (sometimes called CIHR), that caregiver may not be eligible. The Child in the Home of a Relative program had different requirements. (The Child in the Home of a Relative Program stopped taking new applications in April 2010.)

Important: The laws around custody and guardianship have changed. Court orders made after March 18, 2013 no longer refer to "custody." Now the word "guardianship" includes custody. But orders made before March 18, 2013 that use the word "custody" are still in effect.

Extended Family Program agreements

An Extended Family Program agreement:

  • sets out the best way to meet your children's needs, and
  • how long your children will stay with their caregiver.

Extended Family Program agreements replaced kith and kin agreements in April 2010.

Requirements

An Extended Family Program agreement requires the following:

  • The social worker, your children's caregiver, and you will work as a team to come up with a plan for your children's care. The plan will include the services and supports your children need.
    The social worker will assess your children's needs. And they will determine if the Extended Family Program is the best fit.
  • You must deal with the issues that led to your being unable to take care of your children. This is so that the ministry can return your children to you when the agreement ends.
  • The social worker must screen the caregiver you suggest. The social worker will:
    • review the caregiver's Child, Family and Community Service Act records (sometimes called CFCSA records);
    • do a criminal record check;
    • check personal references;
    • check their home; and
    • assess how ready and able the caregiver is to care for your child, and how committed they are.

How long does the agreement last?

The length of the agreement depends on:

  • your circumstances, and
  • how old your children are.
Age of children Agreement length
Under five No longer than three months
Between five and 12 No longer than six months
Over 12 No longer than 12 months

Renewing an agreement

If a longer placement would be better for your children, you may be able to renew the agreement. The total length of the agreement, including all renewals depends on:

  • your circumstances, and
  • how old your children are.
Age of children Agreement length
Under five No longer than 12 months
Between five and 12 No longer than 18 months
Over 12 No longer than 24 months

Find out more

BC Ministry of Children and Family Development

The ministry's website has information on the Extended Family Program.

The Parent Support Services Society of BC

The Parent Support Services Society of BC gives information and support to parents and caregivers. For information about the Extended Family Program or help with your application, call the society's Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Line at 1-855-474-9777.

Related resources

The following resources may help you and your family:

forward arrowBack to: Previous