Family Justice Services continue during Covid-19 - but in different ways

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The Family Justice Services Division of the BC Ministry of the Attorney General has updated the Court on how it will operate during the pandemic. The Division provides a range of services to help resolve family disputes in a fair and timely way. Its in-person services are temporarily not available, but you can still access many of their services by telephone or other virtual means.

In a “Response to COVID-19” statement received by the Court on March 24, 2020 the Division says:

“To align with the recent advice from public health professionals and authorities for containing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Family Justice Services Division (FJSD) has temporarily discontinued in-person services in all Family Justice Centres and Justice Access Centres around the province. This includes the Self-help Resource Rooms and services provided by justice partners located in the Justice Access Centres.

FJSD will continue to provide a full range of services to citizens through telephone and other virtual service options until further notice. Our commitment to serving British Columbians is as strong as ever and we will do our best to continue to provide services to all who need it, just in a different way. In locations or circumstances where FJSD services are required prior to or as part of a family court process, services will continue to be available through technology.

Clients with appointments already scheduled with Family Justice Counsellors or Child Support Officers will be contacted directly by our local offices to discuss options for how that appointment can proceed. Family Justice Counsellors and Child Support Officers will continue to be available to provide dispute resolution services to families through technology.

The Family Justice Report Service (FJRS) is no longer meeting with families or doing home visits. Parties have been contacted and advised that their meetings and home visits have been cancelled and will be re-booked when it is considered safe to do so. In cases where all home visits and interviews have occurred, the FJRS writer will complete the report and send it to both parties, legal counsel and court.

These measures are being taken as a precaution to support the health and safety of staff, clients, families and the community at large. The situation in BC is changing rapidly. We will continue to carefully assess the viability of all our service delivery options; and be responsive in our approach to service delivery as things evolve. We recognize the importance of maintaining open communication with stakeholders to support the families we serve; and are available for any questions that you or those you work with may have.

Service options and contact information for all local offices are available in the HelpMap.

Our Virtual Initial Needs Determination (VIND) toll free number is 1-844-747-3963 and anyone can call this to access our services.

Parenting After Separation (parenting education program) and Parenting After Separation for Indigenous Families are offered online so regular access to the courses will continue.

Please note that government and related websites have not been updated to reflect the change in FJSD service delivery. All callers to local centres will be advised of the service options available to them.

We thank you for your patience during this uncertain time and wish you and yours good health.”

Photos added by eNews - Photo credits: Hassan Ouajbir and on Unsplash

Updated May 2021