Summary of Activities for
the Child-centred Family Justice Fund
Public Legal Education and Information/Professional Training
Another component of the Fund, entitled the Public Legal Education and Information and Professional Training (PLEI and PT) component, supports education, information and professional training projects in order to ensure that participants in the family justice system (families, judiciary, Bar, court staff, enforcement staff, mediators, and others) are well informed about family justice reforms. This component of the Fund is available only to non-governmental, public legal education and information organizations and the specific objective of the PLEI and PT component is to enhance the knowledge of Canadians, including the legal community, about family law issues concerning parenting arrangements, child support guidelines, and support enforcement measures. Here are some examples of projects within this component of the Fund:
- NOVA SCOTIA:
The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia (LISNS) will be making the Divorce Kit accessible by web in order to enhance the knowledge of Canadian and will develop online access to information and other resources centred on family law issues. These are of interest to many callers who seek help from LISNS's information line. The project will involve a number of phases covering different aspects of family law.
The Family Law Symposium is another PLEI and PT activity that was carried out by LISNS and was designed to support continuing education efforts for professionals on parenting arrangements, child support and maintenance enforcement measures. LISNS held a one-day symposium that supported public legal information and assisted professionals, intermediaries and service providers to keep abreast of current family law issues including:
- Family Division Expansion and Enhancement;
- Enhanced Conciliation and Intake Triage;
- Domestic Violence Intervention Act;
- Family Division Programming / Parent Information, Summary Advice Counsel, Supervised Access and Mediation;
- Maintenance Enforcement Program;
- Proposed Amendment to the Divorce Act;
- Children and Family Services Act; and
- Public Information.
- PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND:
To support continuing education efforts for professionals on parenting arrangements, child support and maintenance enforcement measures, the Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island, Inc. is developing a "Going to Family Court" program that will contain information sessions and other material delivery alternatives. This project is targeted to anyone thinking of going to court to resolve their family disputes but will be particularly useful for unrepresented litigants and those who do not understand the court process. It is designed to build on work previously done in Prince Edward Island in an effort to improve access for all Islanders to their legal system.
- NEWFOUNDLAND and LABRADOR:
To enhance the knowledge of Canadians, including the legal community, about family law reforms concerning parenting arrangements, child support guidelines, and support enforcement measures, the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland will conduct an education campaign on these issues through the development and execution of information sessions to be held throughout the province.
- NEW BRUNSWICK:
The Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) are producing an informative guide to address family law concerns and related law information questions from unmarried teen parents/young parents. The purpose of the Guide is to consolidate information that must be sought by individuals from numerous different sources. The Guide presents the information in a clear, concise manner, using vignettes and examples to explain possible outcomes. It also dispels common myths about the rights and responsibilities of parents, promotes responsible parenting by emphasizing the entitlements of the child, and the obligations and responsibilities of the parents.
There is also an urgent need for PLEIS-NB to update and revise their family law guides, particularly those dealing with divorce and child support. They will update and revise the guides and develop new family law materials to ensure that accurate legal information is available and that it is clearer and more understandable for individuals attempting to use family law legal processes. To complement their existing materials, PLEIS-NB will also produce two new bilingual family law related products to assist separating and divorcing parents, namely ISO forms and guides, which were developed in consultation with the federal Department of Justice and provinces and territories, and a guide for applying for custody and access in the Court of Queens Bench.
The Community Legal Education Association (CLEA) of Manitoba producing a workbook of five to six case studies, geared to children aged 8 to 12, based on research and interviews with young people, supplemented by observations by parents, social workers and after school care staff. As there is very little in the way of legal information written for children, CLEA intends to address this gap by developing new materials and approaches to educate youth.
The Legal Education Society of Alberta will develop, deliver and evaluate a three-day training program to educate legal professionals around the adequate and effective legal representation of children, combining legal, non-legal and community interest into one deliverable model. The guiding principle of the project is to ensure that the voices of children are effectively heard in legal proceedings affecting them.
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