The law gives social workers certain powers when they investigate a complaint yet the social worker is required to follow certain rules for doing the work and coming to a conclusion.
Social workers are to be guided by the fundamental understanding that keeping families together is the best objective. If the decision is made that a child is unsafe in a home, a social worker should not remove the child unless that is the only reasonable way to insure safety. Guiding the social worker are these axioms, that a child’s safety is of paramount importance, that the best place for a child is customarily with the family, that a child’s opinion bears due consideration when deciding a course of action, that if a family needs support services to care for a child, the Ministry should seek to provide this help via home support, counselling and parenting classes. A social worker is also to expedite the decision to avoid undue duress on a family or child and is responsible to investigate the complaint in the least disruptive manner possible.
In conducting the investigation a social worker may first contact you by phone or visit you at your home. The social worker has authorization to speak with your child alone (that is without you in the room), can speak with your child at school or somewhere else outside the home and do so without telling you. The social worker can speak with other people who know your child and this includes teachers, babysitters, neighbours, friends, relatives, police, pastors and priests and relatives. A social worker involved in an investigation may examine report cards or court documents or anything that provides information concerning the safety of the child. And a social worker can talk to you, the parent, about your family and perceived concerns. The social worker can come to your home at any time and request to see your child. If you refuse to allow this interview, the social worker is within the right of the law to remove your child from your home. That is why legal advisors will counsel you to work with the social worker as much as possible. You might ask the social worker to allow someone you trust to attend the interview if it concerns you that the social worker is speaking to the child alone. The social worker can remove your child from your home without warning if the ministry thinks the child is in danger.
Parents’ Rights, Kids Rights / A Parent’s Guide to Child Protection Law in B.C.
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