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

Child-centred Family Justice Fund

As a key component of the Strategy, the Child-centred Family Justice Fund supported the development, implementation, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of family justice services by provincial and territorial governments. These services included mediation, parent education and a range of court-based information and community support services designed to help parents make decisions about their children's care and work out child-focused parenting arrangements. The Fund also provided support to some non-government organizations that provided public legal education and information services, or professional training services.

Principles

The selection of projects and services supported by the Fund was guided by the following principles, as identified by the Department of Justice Canada in consultation with provincial and territorial officials:

  • The needs and well being of children are paramount;
  • No one model of post-separation parenting is ideal for all children;
  • Programs and services had to:
    • be sensitive to the fact that children and youth experience separation and divorce differently at different stages of development;
    • aim to protect children and youth from violence, conflict, abuse and economic hardship; and
    • demonstrate that they had considered whether they would have a different impact on male and female clients;
  • A priority of the Strategy was to develop programs and services that would:
    • develop an integrated approach to the planning and delivery of child support, support enforcement and parenting arrangement programs and services in order to respond to the long-term service needs of children and families;
    • explore opportunities for early non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanisms;
    • address the need for evaluation, project monitoring and performance measurement;
    • conduct research that would advance the family law community's knowledge on priority issues, inform policy and program discussions, assist in the development or refinement of policy or programs and clarify legislation;
    • inform participants in the family justice system, including families, judiciary, Bar, court staff, enforcement staff, mediators, and others, about family justice reforms;
    • promote a coordinated national and/or international approach to innovative family justice services and information sharing;
    • provide alternatives or modifications to the present court dispute resolution system in order to reduce cost and delays for parents; and
    • be efficient and cost-effective for the justice system.

Based on these principles, the Fund supported programs and services in the following three areas:

  • Family Justice Initiatives (FJI): Funding for this stream accounted for over 90 percent of the funding under the Strategy. It was used to support provincial and territorial family justice programs and services aimed at helping parents deal with parenting arrangements, child support, and support enforcement (for example, parenting agreements and orders, contact orders, custody orders and access rights). The amount of money available to each jurisdiction was determined by a distribution formula established in consultation with the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials—Family Justice, and agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers of justice. The transfer of funds was accomplished through contribution agreements negotiated with each province and territory.

  • Pilot Projects: Funding for this stream was $500,000 per year. It was available to the provinces and territories to develop and pilot innovative family justice services that could potentially be incorporated into long-term services.

  • Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) and Professional Training: The remaining $500,000 per year of the Fund was made available to non-governmental organizations, by way of grants or contributions, to undertake projects that would inform Canadians, including the legal community, about parenting arrangements, child support guidelines and support enforcement measures. Proposals for funding of such projects had to be supported by the appropriate provincial or territorial government.

Funding for the Pilot Projects and the Public Legal Education and Information and Professional Training components was virtually eliminated in the first year of the Strategy as a result of a government-wide reallocation exercise. However, the funding was reinstated in 2004‑2005 and the total amount was used for the intended purposes.

Primary Areas of Activity

All activities and projects proposed by the jurisdictions had to fall within at least one of the following seven primary areas of activity (PAAs), which were developed in consultation with the provinces and territories:

The seven PAAs were reflected in three broad family justice activities—integration (PAAs 1, 2, 3 and 7), enforcement (PAAs 4 and 5)and research (PAA 6).

Contribution funding was expected to:

  • expand child-centred family justice services offered by provincial and territorial partners;
  • increaseparents' use of those services and their awareness of this new, child-centred approach to parenting arrangements;
  • enable key deliverers of family justice services (lawyers, judges and social service providers), through resources and training, to better apply the CCFJS reforms in their own areas of responsibility.

These direct outcomes were expected, in turn, to:

  • increase parents' understanding of the needs of their children, a child-focused approach and their own parental responsibilities; and
  • help the provinces and territories provide family justice services that would better meet the needs of parents and children and encourage a more child-centred approach;

Many of the services funded under the Strategy are outlined below, beginning with those in the Family Justice Initiatives, which accounted for the highest proportion of funds. It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive list of the family justice services that existed in a province or jurisdiction. Rather, these are just some examples of the types of services that were funded. Although funding under the Child-centred Family Justice Strategy ended on March 31, 2009, many of those services may still be in effect.


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