Information for young people 12 to 18 who've been asked to agree (in writing) to a plan of care by a social worker for the Director of Child Welfare
- The court order is what the court has decided about your guardianship or custody, and might include where you'll live, who'll look after you, and other related things (also called a section 60 consent order).
- Your plan of care is the written plan your social worker prepares that sets out where you'll live and who'll look after you.
- The law says you have a right to see a lawyer if you're asked to agree to this kind of plan of care.
You probably have lots of questions about the plan of care. It's important to see a lawyer and get answers to your questions. The lawyer can explain exactly what the plan means for you and how it'll affect your life.
- The lawyer works for you, not anyone else.
- Tell your lawyer exactly what you think about the plan of care.
- You don't have to pay the lawyer.
How do I get a lawyer?
- Ask your social worker about when and where you can see a lawyer.
- If you need help to get to the lawyer's office, tell your social worker.
- Your social worker makes an appointment for you with the lawyer.
What does my lawyer do?
- Your lawyer's job is to discuss the plan of care with you, explain what it says, answer your questions, and tell you what your choices are.
- Your lawyer then asks you if you agree to the plan of care.
- If you agree, the lawyer asks you to sign a form that says you give consent.
- If you disagree, you can explain to the lawyer what's wrong with the plan of care and suggest changes, if you like. Your lawyer might be able to change the plan for you.
What should I do before I see my lawyer?
- Write down any questions you have so you don't forget them.
- You may bring someone with you when you go to see your lawyer.
Some questions you might want to ask:
- When and how often do I see my parents and family?
- Who decides about such things as my school and health care?
- How long is the plan of care for? What happens after that?
What do I tell my lawyer?
- Tell your lawyer as much as you can. Everything you say helps your lawyer understand your situation.
- The lawyer works for you. The lawyer isn't allowed to tell anyone — including the judge and your parents — anything about what you say without your permission.
- If you have a list of questions, show it to your lawyer. That way, your lawyer can get a really good idea of what you think. For example, you could give your lawyer reasons why the plan won't work, and tell your lawyer not to talk about those reasons with your parents, your social worker, or the judge.
What happens next?
Ask your lawyer to tell you what will happen next.
- If you agree to the plan of care, the lawyer tells your social worker, in writing.
- If you want the plan changed, your lawyer discusses the changes with your social worker, if you agree to that.
- If you don't agree, and you don't want your lawyer to tell anyone your reasons, your lawyer just tells your social worker you don't agree.
What if I have problems with my lawyer? What if I don't like or trust my lawyer?
- Go back to your social worker and explain why you want to see another lawyer.
- Your social worker will try to find you a different lawyer.