The General Authority’s core principals include building on the strengths of families and focusing on permanency for children. Child and family services agencies and service regions, under the purview of the General Authority, provide a range of assistance for families who need support. The General Authority is committed to strengths-based solutions and values collaborative and respectful relationships with families, through its agencies and service regions. The focus is to address safety worries for children, to strengthen family relationships and to connect them with support services in the community.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS A PARENT?
The law allows parents to raise their children with their own values and beliefs. This means that you have the right to raise and discipline your children without child and family service involvement unless your child is unsafe, as set out in Canadian law.
It is your right and responsibility to make decisions about religion, school, discipline, medical treatment and where your child lives. No one can change your decisions unless, for example, your child is subject to abuse or neglect, is not receiving education, is not allowed medical treatment when it is needed or there is an order by a court.
As a parent you have duty to:
• Protect your child from harm.
• Provide food, clothing and a place to live for your child.
• Financially support your child.
• Provide safety, supervision and control.
• Provide medical care.
• Provide an education.
Parents are there to protect children until they are old enough to be considered adults.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT PARENTS’ RIGHTS AND DUTIES?
There is not one single law that actually sets out all the rights and duties that parents have. Some of the different laws (Acts) that spell out parents’ rights and responsibilities are:
• The Child and Family Services Act says that parents have the responsibility for their child’s care, maintenance, education and well-being. If these needs are not properly met, the law says that the child may be in need of protection and a child may be taken away (apprehended) by a child and family services agency. A child in this Act is a person who is under 12 years old. A young person is between 12 and 17 years of age.
• The Family Maintenance Act of Manitoba and the Divorce Act of Canada include laws that require parents to give financial support to their children while they are under the age of 18 or even older if they can’t support themselves.
• The Public Schools Act requires parents to make sure their children (under age of 18) go to school. There are some exceptions: if the child is being homeschooled, is sick, or is age 16 or older and enrolled in an adult learning centre.
• The Parental Responsibility Act says parents can be required to pay for damage that their children cause to other people’s property.
• United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that sets out the basic human rights of every child, approved by world leaders. The convention guarantees children the following rights: to survival and full development of their potential; the right to protection; and the right to participate in decision making.
Laws do not cover everything parents face when raising children. Many times, the child’s maturity and their interests are considered. It is easy for parents to be confused as they try to understand all the laws about what children can and cannot do.
The law clearly states that parents have the responsibility to protect and care for their children.
The law recognizes that as children grow older, they are able to make some decisions by themselves. The age when a child can make their own decisions depends on their maturity and the importance of the decision.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES (CFS) BECOMES INVOLVED WITH YOUR FAMILY?
CFS’s first concern, based on Manitoba law, is to ensure that children are safe. CFS, whenever possible, tries very hard to help parents find ways to keep their children safe and supported at home.
There are a number of ways that CFS can support families:
• Connect families with family support workers who provide families with a break and/or who can teach parents about parenting strategies and budgeting.
• Facilitate support/access to emergency assistance such as food, housing and transportation.
• Connect (or refer) families to counselling, services and parenting education programs.
• Provide voluntary expectant parent services for parents under 18 years of age.
• Advocate for housing or other basic needs.
• CFS agencies will initiate a process of asking the family about formal and informal networks and family/community who can become members of an expanded safety network that help enhance safety for children.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR CHILD COMES INTO THE CARE OF THE CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES SYSTEM?
Keeping children safe is the main goal of Child and Family Services (CFS) in Manitoba. CFS offers supports to families and children to help keep the family together. In most cases when CFS becomes involved with families, children do not go into care. Placing children in care occurs only when a child is in immediate danger and there is no other way to ensure that a child can be kept safe.
If this happens, it is important that you know and understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent while your child is in CFS care. It is also important to know that CFS will encourage collaborative planning with the agency to locate kinship or extended family care for children, if they are taken into care.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM UNHAPPY WITH THE SERVICE MY FAMILY IS RECEIVING?
If there’s a problem, CFS will do their best to resolve it. Talk to your CFS worker if you have any concerns or questions. If you and your CFS worker can’t sort it out, ask to speak to the CFS supervisor. It has been our experience that most matters are usually resolved at this point. However, if you, your CFS worker, and the supervisor can’t resolve the problem, and you are still not satisfied that the issue has been dealt with, you may contact the manager that oversees the supervisor involved. The final step within the agency structure would be to contact the agency director. If you have used all avenues within the agency structure, you may then contact the General Authority agencies and service regions listed on this site or call the General Authority toll free at 1-866-803-2814. You may also contact the General Authority by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.