Summary of Activities for the Child-centred Family Justice Fund 2003-2009

Appendix I: Jurisdictional Breakdown of Activities (Part 1)

The following breakdown by jurisdiction highlights many of the major activities undertaken by our provincial and territorial partners through the Child-centred Family Justice Fund. While not all services offered by the jurisdictions benefit directly from funding under the Fund, as a result of receiving federal funds to contribute to certain activities and services, provincial resources are freed up to proceed with other innovative actions and activities. While this is the case for certain activities described below, all of these activities form an important part of the overall Strategy. As noted above, the services described do not constitute a comprehensive list of the family justice services that exist in a province or jurisdiction, but describe services supported by the Fund.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Family Justice Services Western (FJSWestern) gives separating parents an alternative to the court system for the first time ever in the western region of Newfoundland and Labrador, and will expand province-wide during the fiscal year 2008‑2009. Services include information sessions for adults on family law and parenting issues; mediation on custody, access, child support and spousal support; counselling for adults and children on separation issues; workshops on communication skills and conflict resolution; support group for children dealing with separation/divorce; automatic recalculation of child support.
  • The Support Enforcement Division has developed an electronic interface with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics as well as with provincial applications such as the Judgement Enforcement Registry (JER) and Family Orders and Agreement Enforcement Assistance Act.
  • A new component was added to the Administrative Recalculation service to allow for automatic and mandatory recalculation of all child support orders as of July 1, 2001 in accordance with section 25.1 of the Divorce Act.
  • The Support Applications Social Worker (SASW) program is a service designed to help recipients of income support prepare applications for child support to be heard in court. Originally developed in the 1990, the Fund allowed for the expansion of the program to provide help to all members of the general public. In addition to helping with the application process, the SASW now provides information on the Child Support Guidelines and direct clients with regards to the possibility of resolving issues through mediation.
  • CCFJF funding is also used to support the Parent Education Program that operates in both St. John's and Corner Brook. This program offers information sessions delivered by provincial staff that include power point presentations, handouts and videos. Client feedback is also collected to inform future revisions to the content of the sessions and better meet the needs of clients.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador has also produced a Family Law Web site that contains both process and educational information for families experiencing separation or divorce. It will provide more specific family law information than the existing Provincial Court Web sites and provide links to other family law information sources.
  • Research Division of Justice Canada will be conducting a research project on the impact of recalculation of child support on the rate of compliance for child support payments. The fund allows Newfoundland and Labrador to be part of that project.

Nova Scotia

  • The Parent Information Program assists parents in identifying the effect of separation and divorce on children and to identify and practice ways to keep children from getting caught in the middle. The province continues to collect client feedback information in relation to its Parent Information Program, which can be used to improve the service going forward.
  • As part of their duties, the Conciliator acts as a high level intake person, and serves to assist negotiation between parties making an application to the court. The Conciliator is guided by the responsibility to make appropriate referrals to services and screens for violence and abuse issues that may affect the appropriateness of certain referrals and the risk of bringing the parties together to discuss issues.
  • The Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) is extending many efforts to keep the Nova Scotia public informed about the MEP and its mandate. Pamphlets on the MEP services are available and are widely distributed. A Field Officer carries out investigations focused on payers who have never paid child support as ordered, are delinquent with payments and/or for whom MEP cannot find employment information. The goals of the project are to increase the enforcement rate, improve recipient satisfaction, increase confidence in the program and reduce costs to other governmental departments. The province also commissioned an examination of the performance of its MEP. The researchers analyzed existing performance measures and evaluated alternative models to the current administrative system of maintenance enforcement in Nova Scotia.
  • Nova Scotia also used the fund to develop a new client file access Web site that would increase both efficiency and client service. Electronic transfer of funds by payers to MEP in payment of their support obligations would significantly decrease the wait times for release of payments to recipients and reduce non-sufficient fund or lost cheques. The creation of a Client Access Web site will provide electronic access by recipients and payers to portions of their files. Reciprocating jurisdictions within Canada would also be provided with direct access to specific file information that they require for enforcement purposes. The technological enhancements would also enable to develop system reports and ensure data reliability and replication.
  • Intake Assistants (IAs) provide information to the public on child support, custody and access issues. The IAs coordinate a triage type of service delivery by making appropriate referrals to the Parent Information Program, conciliation or mediation, screening for potential violence and identifying assistive services such as legal aid, income assistance and transition houses.
  • The Nova Scotia Department of Justice has developed an Administrative Recalculation Program to be piloted in areas of the province serviced by the Supreme Court. The Recalculation Program provides for the annual recalculation of child support/maintenance orders and court registered agreements involving the basic table amount of child maintenance in sole, joint (not shared) or split custody cases.
  • Two Family Law Information Centres (FLICs), one in Sydney and one in Halifax, operate with the goal of serving self-represented clients in understanding and accessing the family court. By providing free legal information and basic assistance, the FLICs are able to provide information to Nova Scotians with regard to: court processes and forms, how to find a lawyer, alternatives to court, effects of separation and divorce on children, and services available in the community.
  • In 2008, the On-Line FLIC was launched. The aim of the on-line FLIC will be to enhance the services currently provided in their on-site FLICs by providing an easily accessible method in which clients can increase their knowledge of court processes. Nova Scotia has developed Web site and the content is aimed at empowering self-represented litigants to adequately represent themselves throughout the family justice process. The Web site content includes: an on-line interactive forms; linkages to existing internet resources; promotion of the existing Family Law Information Centres; information about family law programming currently available including mediation, supervised access, conciliation, summary advice, parent information, etc.

Prince Edward Island

  • Prince Edward Island has used the fund for its Positive Parenting from Two Homes program. The program is extensively promoted through a variety of media advertisements and community agencies and participation includes a copy of a Parent's Manual. A three-year evaluation considered implementation as well as impact and outcomes assessments. The evaluation indicated that participants reported a significant increase in the level of understanding of co-parenting issues, mediation and support services. Results also indicate that the program has helped with parents' adjustment to parenting from two homes and that there was a significant decrease in conflict after attending the program.
  • One of the most promising activities under the Family Justice Initiatives component of the Fund, is Prince Edward Island's Positive Parenting From Two Homes: For Kids program. This child education program builds on the parent education program developed by the same province. Objectives include educating children about separation, divorce, and having parents in two homes; providing children with age-appropriate activities through which to process their thoughts and feelings; and providing a supportive, neutral environment for children to explore their feelings. Evaluation conclusions support the continuation and expansion of the “For Kids!” program. Ninety percent of parents surveyed reported improvements in children's emotional health after attending the program. The program will be offered in the community and in three elementary schools. It is also intended to present the program in other schools. They will continue to network with daycare facilities to provide some age appropriate services to pre-schoolers using the storybook, “Dinosaurs Divorce”, while the parents are attending the “Positive Parenting from Two Homes” Program.
  • The province also used the fund to provide mediation services. Mediators deal with family law issues of custody, access and child support. Participation in the mediation service is voluntary. One part-time mediator is available in Charlottetown. She also travels to sites outside of Charlottetown as required. There are also two family court counsellors who mediate cases where there is a conflict of interest and overflow. Each couple who use this province-wide mediation service is eligible for up to eight sessions or twelve hours free of charge.
  • The province has worked with the Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) to develop, organize, implement and evaluate a pilot family law information program. Existing PEI educational resources and opportunities were reviewed, key stakeholders were consulted, and the content and format of a short informational/educational family law information program for self-represented litigants in family law was developed. An evaluation tool for collecting feedback from presenters and participants at the pilot family law information program was developed. Presenters and participants were identified and contacted to participate in the pilot family law information program. An evaluation report was written, including recommendations for future delivery.
  • The Administrative Recalculation of Child Support Regulations came into force in September 2003 after the Administrative Recalculation Office opened in Charlottetown in July of that year. This office conducts recalculations of child support where the original order provides for the automatic administrative recalculation of child support on an annual basis but the discretion of the court is not required and it serves all of PEI in both official languages.
  • The province also created a Section 7 Enforcement Officer to deal with complicated issues relating to the often ambiguous court-ordered section 7 expenses. This officer conducts calculations and enforces payment where possible and communicates with the client where enforcement is impossible due to insufficient specificity of the initial court order. The provincial enforcement office has also collaborated with the Information Technology Management Group to create an automated bank reconciliation system. This system is integrated with the Maintenance Enforcement Program's existing system and will save the Enforcement Officer's manually tracking payments and allow their time to focus on managing files.
  • The other new position facilitated by the CCFJF is the Intake Enforcement Officer whose role is to provide administrative support to the Enforcement officers and deal with basic client interaction. That has significantly streamlined calls through the office, reduced the time to respond to client calls, and increased the number of clients accessing an enforcement officer for the purpose of enforcement.
  • PEI hires a university student to work on a Maintenance Enforcement Program Client Satisfaction Survey Project. The objective of the project is to provide the best service delivery to clients by obtaining feedback from clients on the needs of clients and the strengths and weaknesses of the program.

New Brunswick

  • For the Sake of the Children is a parent education program delivered in 13 locations throughout the province, and is designed to assist separating parents in reducing parental conflict and the negative effects it has on their children. It is offered to the public at no charge. These sessions are designed to send a consistent message to participants, and to also reach those with lower literacy levels. The Parent Education Script/Handout Material will be modified and the content for the Part B, low and high-conflict options, will be combined as one program.
  • The Child Support Variation Service (CSVS) is a pilot project for all cases where motions to vary child support orders are filed, both the applicant and the respondent must appear before a Conciliation Officer who meets with both parties, reviews the evidence provided, ensures necessary documentation is present and calculates a new child support amount. As part of an evaluation of the CSVS program, a legal research firm was retained to prepare and deliver an evaluation design report with survey questionnaires. The evaluation for the CSVS program was conducted in 2004‑2005 and completed by fall 2005.
  • The Court-Ordered Evaluations Support Program (C‑OESP) is a mechanism that provides financial assistance for the costs of court-ordered evaluations to qualified parties (those for whom the costs of such evaluations could cause financial hardship). C‑OESP optimizes the use of available funding to assist the maximum number of parents at the lowest possible administrative expense. Eligibility for assistance is determined by using a financial means test (sliding scale).
  • Family Support Order Services (FSOS) enforces support orders for beneficiaries to ensure the financial contribution of payers. A comprehensive project to renew the FSOS encompasses a number of interrelated initiatives, including stabilization of the business application used by FSOS and its eventual replacement with a comprehensive case management system; a legislative reform package; revitalization of the Programs organizational structure, including staffing and policy and procedure revisions. Under the FSOS, New Brunswick operated a Target Enforcement Pilot Project. This project targeted support orders where the beneficiary was receiving income assistance from the province and concentrated work on those files with a single enforcement officer. This project produced a notably higher collection rate and resulted in change in the structure of the Saint John Judicial District caseload.
  • The toll-free Family Law Information Line is staffed by a trained individual who provides callers with general family law information, such as child support guidelines information. Participants for the Parent Education Program register for classes through this toll-free line.
  • New-Brunswick used the fund to enhance the enforcement capabilities of the new automated system to support the Maintenance Enforcement Program. The fund also allowed New-Brunswick to redesign the Interactive Voice Response to integrate with the new MEP computer system functionality.
  • During 2008‑2009, New-Brunswick was planning to design pamphlets for new Program capabilities (i.e. “How to make payments on-line”, and “Payment Orders”.
  • New-Brunswick was also planning to hold a Parent Education workshop in Fredericton for the facilitators and hold orientation sessions for new Facilitators, if necessary. Information sessions were also planned for the public at the annual Canadian Bar Association meeting on the Parent Education Program as well as the Child Support Variation Service program (CSVS).

Quebec

  • Justice Quebec is pursuing an action plan with the intent to improve their operational activities and evaluate the legislative reforms to ensure that the objectives targeted by the legislation are met. Justice Quebec will continue to offer ongoing projects such as the group information sessions on family mediation, promoting the mediation program (17,000 mediation cases per year) and the Règlement sur la fixation des pensions alimentaires pour enfants (respecting Quebec's model for the determination of child support)through advertisements and brochures distributed to practitioners and at various courthouses throughout the province. More information about these services is available on the Justice Quebec Web site.
  • Justice Quebec revised the provincial mediation procedure that existed before the recent family law reforms, offering up to six mediation sessions to parents who are separating or divorcing. The mediation process remains voluntary.
  • Revenue Quebec's Maintenance Enforcement Program is promoted through an awareness campaign addressed at judicial officials, payers and recipients. They also provide additional training to the interveners involved in the Program and undertaking a feasibility study on the withdrawal of professional licenses for non-payment of child support. Revenue Quebec will also continue to make technical changes to their computer system to improve their accounting services, increase staff productivity and improve client services.
  • The Quebec Justice Department is conducting a study that will give a profile of spousal support orders pronounced by Quebec Superior Court. The study will also allow the comparison of that profile to the one we had for the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. They are also planning a research on family justice in Aboriginal Communities that aims at identifying the family justice-related needs of these communities.


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