Intervening in a child’s life   

The Act deals with many different matters in the area of child welfare, such as intervention services and adoption.  Intervention services are implemented when the Director of Child and Family Services (Alberta) has a reasonable and probable belief that a child is in need of intervention. The Act helps the director determine what steps can and should be taken to intervene. The Act states that “the family is the basic unit of society and its well being should be supported and preserved.” 

In the case of a child being in need of intervention, every effort will be made to support the family to allow the child to remain in his/her home. Sometimes, however, the child’s best interests would be better served if he/she was placed in the custody of the Director (of Child and Family Services).  At this point, the director has the opportunity to either enter into an agreement with the guardian, or to apply to the Court for a court order prescribing guardianship.

The focus of the Act is on obtaining permanent care as soon as possible for children, and on addressing the needs of youth for a transition to independence and adulthood.  The views of the child should be considered when decisions about the child are being made. A child’s cultural, racial and linguistic heritage must be respected when making decisions for the well-being of the child, especially for Aboriginal children, who have a unique status.  

Grounds for Intervention

A child is in need of intervention if there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the survival, security or development of the child is endangered because of any of the following: 

  • A Child is Lost or Abandoned  
  • A child is being neglected 
  • Child’s guardian is dead & child has no other guardian 
  • Child is at substantial risk of being physically injured or sexually abused by guardian 
  • The guardian is unable or unwilling to protect the child from physical injury or sexual abuse 
  • The child has been emotionally injured by the guardian 
  • The guardian is unable or willing to protect the child from emotional injury 
  • The guardian of the child has subjected the child to or is unable or willing to protect the child from cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Responsibility to Report a Child in Need of Intervention

Any individual that has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a child is in need of intervention should report that information to a director.  Any person that fails to report a child in need of intervention is guilty of an offence and may be found liable to a fine of not more than $2000.   Further, if an individual does not pay the fine he/she could be imprisoned for a term of not more than six months. In almost all cases, a person who reports a potential child in need of intervention is free from the possibility of legal action. If a report is made maliciously or without reasonable and probable grounds, then an individual could face legal action. 

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