As a key component of the Strategy, the Fund supports the development, implementation, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of family justice services. These services include mediation, parent education and a range of court-based information and community support services to assist parents making decisions about their children's care and to help them work out child-focused parenting arrangements.
The selection of projects and services supported under the Fund are guided by the following principles, as identified by 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 will be ideal for all children;
- Programs and services must be sensitive to the fact that children and youth experience separation and divorce at different stages of development and must aim to protect them from violence, conflict, abuse and economic hardship;
- Programs and services must demonstrate that they have considered whether they will have a different impact on male and female clients;
- An integrated approach to the planning and delivery of child support, support enforcement and parenting arrangement programs and services is encouraged to respond to the long-term service needs of children and families;
- Opportunities for early non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanisms should be encouraged;
- Activities should address the need for evaluation, project monitoring and performance measurement;
- Research should have the goal of advancing the family law community's knowledge on priority issues, informing policy and program discussions, assisting in the development or refinement of policy or programs and aim to enhance legislative clarity;
- Participants in the family justice system (families, judiciary, Bar, court staff, enforcement staff, mediators, and others) should be well informed about family justice reforms;
- A coordinated national and / or international approach to innovative family justice services and information sharing should be promoted;
- Alternatives or modifications to the present court dispute resolution system are needed to reduce cost and delays for parents; and,
- Programs and services should be efficient and cost-effective for the justice system.
Based on these principles, the Fund supports programs and services in the following three areas:
- Family Justice Initiatives (FJI):
- This stream, which accounts for over 90% of Fund resources under the Strategy, supports provincial and territorial family justice programs and services that assist parents dealing with parenting arrangements, child support, and support enforcement (e.g., parenting agreements and orders, contact orders, custody orders and access rights). The amount of money available to each jurisdiction has been determined by a distribution formula established in consultation with the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials- Family Justice (CCSO-Family Justice). The transfer of funds is accomplished through contribution agreements negotiated with each province and territory.
- Pilot Projects:
- About one-half of the funds not assigned to Family Justice Initiatives are available for pilot projects proposed by provincial and territorial governments to develop, implement, deliver, monitor and evaluate innovative family justice services.
- Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) and Professional Training:
- The balance of the funds is made available to non-governmental organizations, by way of grants or contributions, to undertake projects that inform Canadians, including the legal community, about parenting arrangements, child support guidelines, and support enforcement measures. Proposals for funding of such projects must be supported by the appropriate provincial or territorial government.
Funding for the Family Justice Initiatives component was $15.1 million in the first year of the Strategy and $15 million in the second year. These amounts were allocated across the provinces and territories based on the funding formula agreed to by federal-provincial-territorial deputy ministers of justice. Funding for the Pilot Projects and the Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) and Professional Training (PT) components was virtually eliminated in the first year of the Strategy due to the Government-wide Reallocation Exercise. However, the funding was reinstated in 2004/05 and the provinces and territories and various PLEI and PT organizations made successful applications to use all of the funding available ($500,000 in each of the two components)
Each of the activities and projects proposed by the jurisdictions must fall within at least one of the seven Primary Areas of Activity (PAAs), which were developed in consultation with the provinces and territories. The PAAs are as follows:
- PAA #1: Funding to support the coordination of family justice activities such as parenting arrangements, child support, and support enforcement.
- PAA #2: Funding to support the development, delivery, enhancement and expansion of innovative child-centred family justice activities and services.
- PAA #3: Funding to support the development, delivery and enhancement of dispute resolution mechanisms to determine, vary or recalculate the amount of child support.
- PAA #4: Funding to support the development, enhancement, and delivery of innovative support enforcement activities.
- PAA #5: Funding to support provincial/territorial efforts as they relate to the establishment, variation and recognition of interjurisdictional support orders.
- PAA #6: Funding to support research, analysis, monitoring and evaluation activities in family justice.
- PAA #7: Funding to support public awareness and understanding of the Child-centred Family Justice Strategy (new legislation and supporting services).
The seven PAAs are reflected in three broad family justice activities–integration (PAAs 1, 2, 3 and 7), enforcement (PAAs 4 and 5)and research (PAA 6).
This report outlines the activities of the first two years of the Fund. These activities have set a solid foundation that will continue to be enhanced in order to achieve the goals of the Strategy. Particularly, contribution funding is expected to lead to:
- an expansion of child-centred family justice services offered by P/T partners;
- an increased use of these services and awareness of the new approach to parenting arrangements by parents;
- an enabling of key deliverers of family justice services (lawyers, judges and social service providers), as a result of resources and training, to better apply the CCFJS reforms in their own areas of responsibility.
These direct outcomes will, in turn:
- Lead to an increased understanding by parents of the needs of their children, a child focused approach and their own parental responsibilities;
- Contribute to P/Ts providing family justice services that better meet the needs of parents and children using these services through the new child-focused approach.
Many of the services funded during the first two years of the Strategy (2003/2004 and 2004/2005) are outlined below, beginning with those in the Family Justice Initiatives, which comprise the highest proportion of funds. It is important to note that these services do not constitute a comprehensive list of the family justice services that exist in a province or jurisdiction, but lists examples of the types of services supported by the Fund.
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