*To protect the client's confidentiality, we have not used her real name.
Jane*, a mother of two children, never gave up the fight to get her kids back after they were removed from her home by government social workers nearly a decade ago. And in early May 2019, with the help of the Parents Legal Centre (PLC) in Surrey, her hard work paid off in the local courthouse.
After nine years of working to demonstrate to the Ministry of Children and Family Development that she can care for her kids safely, Regional Administrative Judge Rob Hamilton granted Jane’s application to cancel a continuing care order (CCO) for her son, the older of the two children. The younger child, her daughter, was already back in her care due to her efforts.
Surrey PLC’s managing lawyer, Jeff Speed, provided the legal assistance necessary to get Jane's case before the court, ensured all proper parties were given notice of the application, and prepared Jane for what to expect in court.
When the hearing date came, Jane was nervous and anxious, but Jeff prepared her by reviewing the questions the judge would ask.
Jane, who self-identifies as Indigenous, has struggled with substance use for almost her entire life. Since the CCO was issued, she has participated in parenting programs, a family recovery program on Vancouver Island and regularly attends Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) programs through the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association.
Speed represented Jane in 2010 when she consented to the CCO, and he recalls what a difficult decision it was for Jane to agree to place her child in continuing care. This time around, it was a “very happy courtroom” on the day the order was cancelled.
“I was so proud of my client, and Judge Hamilton let her know how rare it was to have this application granted,” said Speed. “He told her that in his 20-plus years as a lawyer working in child protection, he was never successful in getting a CCO cancelled for his client, and that in over eight years as a judge, he has never made an order to cancel one.”
In her testimony at court, Jane said it was “wonderful to hear children’s laughter in her house again.”
“That statement seemed to summarize to me the amount of change she had gone through in her life,” Speed said.
Parents Legal Centres are a legal aid service of the Legal Services Society (LSS), providing help to parents with child protection matters. The centres support parents to resolve not only their legal matter but also the underlying non-legal issues that often lead to child protection concerns. LSS has nine centres across BC. For contact information, see our Service locations page.