Accessing Child And Family Services File
Child and Family Services (“CFS”) is a part of the Alberta government in charge of protecting children. However, their actions often impact a parent’s ability to spend time with their child. Despite the extent of the involvement, records relating to your family form part of CFS’s process. As a result, these files often have very sensitive and private information. This often results in limited and conditional access to the records. Getting Child And Family Service disclosure allows you to see what the contents of your file include. Keep reading if you face a section 4 referral.
Why Obtaining Disclosure Is Important To You
An individual may wish to get access to the file for many reasons. One reason being for use in a child custody matter where the information helps their case. So, how do you get a copy of it?
In Alberta, the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFEA) provides for two ways to get access to the CFS Director’s file:
- An Application under Section 126(1) of the CYFEA; and
- An Application under section 126.11 of the CYFEA.
Disclosure Requests Made By Guardians Or The Child
Section 126(1) of the CYFEA allows the Minister to disclose child intervention records to particular recipients, including:
(b) to the guardian of the child to whom the information relates or the guardian’s lawyer, and
(c) to the child to whom the information relates or the child’s lawyer.
Under this section, disclosure is optional and made in line with CYFEA and Part 2 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Thus, disclosure will only happen if it is in the best interests of the child and to the degree that it is reasonable and necessary.
What’s New With Child And Family Service Disclosure?
If you are the guardian, child or counsel for the guardian or child, requests for disclosure of documents is pursuant to s. 126(1)(b) or (c) of the CYFEA, and can be made directly via email. A confirmation of the email request will be given along with a request for additional information, if necessary.
What Remains The Same With Child And Family Service Disclosure?
If are requesting disclosure on behalf of a guardian of the child, it is important to provide the contact information for the other guardian. This step is necessary as it allows input from the other guardian. In addition, you can see if they are also seeking disclosure. Further, including the other guardian or their counsel in the initial request expedites the process.
It is important to give information about what you are seeking and why. If possible, limit the request by time frame or the kind of documents you need as it may be possible to get disclosure more quickly.
Also, it is important to provide information about upcoming court dates. With that said, there is no guarantee that disclosure will be provided in time for an upcoming court date. As such, one should make requests for disclosure with enough time and information. This will make it more likely that disclosure is provided in time for an upcoming court date.
If the court provides disclosure, it will be with undertakings from counsel or under certain conditions for a self-represented guardian. In some cases, this means that you may not be able to get a physical copy of the file. Rather, you may only be able to view the file in your lawyer’s office. It may also indicate that CFS did not disclose the entire file. This is because CFS decides what to disclose based on the best interests of the child.
A disclosure application under Section 126(1) is usually a faster procedure. This is because the Court does not need you to make an appearance nor make a decision on the release of disclosure.
However, if you are not a guardian of the child, you must seek disclosure under s. 126.11 of CYFEA.
Child And Family Service Disclosure: Section 126.11
Under Section 126.11, a person involved in the legal matter must file an Application and an Affidavit at the Courthouse. In other words, it can be the applicant or the respondent in a parenting application.
The Application requires the scheduling of a court date, and proper service effected on the Director. The Affidavit must contain the disclosure being requested of the Director as well as the reasons why it should be disclosed.
On the scheduled court date, the Director will send a representative to speak to the Director’s position. They also speak to the Application and the release of the documents. The court considers several factors. For example, the factors included under section 126.11(8) help to determine whether it will:
- release the record edited or unedited;
- release a portion of the requested record edited or unedited;
- disclose the records under certain conditions (i.e. that it not be disclosed to any other person except with the approval of the court, that it may be viewed only at a location specified by the court and that no copy may be made of it; etc); or
- deny the request for disclosure.
How Kahane Law Office Helps With Child And Family Service Disclosure?
The family law lawyers at Kahane Law Office understand this seemingly overwhelming process. They have experience with both methods of getting a CFS file and know what information needs to be requested. Schedule an appointment with one of our family law lawyers by contacting our Calgary office today at 403-225-8810. If you live in the Edmonton area, please contact us by Phone at (780) 571-8463. Email often allows for faster responses and allows us to provide you with more information. Please email either office at by emailing us directly here. We then, connect you with the appropriate location.