Federal Funding of Provincial and Territorial Child Support, Support Enforcement and Child Custody and Access Projects
The Department of Justice Canada established the Child Support Initiative in 1996 to help implement the Federal Child Support Guidelines and new and enhanced support enforcement measures. A key element of these efforts was the Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund. In effect from April 1996 to March 2000, the Fund provided financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments to cover part of the costs they incurred to implement child support guidelines and new enforcement measures. In April 2000, the Fund was replaced by the Child-centred Family Justice Fund, which enlarged the focus of federal funding from implementing child support reforms to developing and improving family law programs and services that deal with child custody and access, child support, and support enforcement in a more integrated manner.
This report provides an overview of provincial and territorial projects supported through the two funds from the 1997-1998 fiscal year to 2000-2001. The information comes from the provincial and territorial funding proposals and progress reports submitted to the Department of Justice Canada. As it identifies only federally funded activities, the report does not provide a complete picture of the work any one province or territory has done to implement child support guidelines, enhance enforcement programs, or to improve family law services.
The report is intended to account for federal funding activities, provide interested readers with some insight into the services available to divorcing and separating parents and facilitate information sharing among provincial and territorial officials. Because of the number of projects and activities covered, descriptions of funded projects, programs and services are concise. Readers wanting more detailed information are invited to seek additional information from the complete list of programs, by province, in the appendices, evaluation reports, and other reference documents cited throughout the text or by contacting the federal, provincial or territorial offices responsible for the development of family law services.
Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund
(April 1996 to March 2000)
The Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund made up to $50 million available for activities associated with implementation of the child support guidelines and designated $13.6 million for maintenance enforcement projects. The implementation component was intended to allow the provinces and territories to collaborate with the federal government on innovative, cost-effective programs and procedures to help parents obtain original child support orders and variations to existing orders. The enforcement component supported innovative, cost-effective enforcement measures and processes, including national and international reciprocal enforcement of support orders. The Department of Justice Canada and the provincial and territorial governments established an annual allocation target for each province and territory, based on their population in these two broad areas.
Federal, provincial and territorial officials established primary areas of activity for each component of the funding program to ensure that funded activities support federal objectives, while offering the provinces and territories the benefit of predictability in their year-to-year planning. The following were the primary areas of activity for the implementation component of the Fund:
- Coordination: coordinating activities to implement the federal child support guidelines;
- Enhancing Existing Services: developing or improving existing client and court services to meet workload increases;
- Provincial and Territorial Guidelines: adopting provincial guidelines that parallel the Federal Child Support Guidelines;
- Public Information: supporting public awareness and understanding of the Federal Child Support Guidelines;
- Innovative Approaches: developing, testing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating innovative ways to meet the demand for variations to existing support agreements and orders, and for new agreements and orders; and
- Monitoring: monitoring the effects of the legislative changes.
The following were project areas under the enforcement component:
- Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEA) Enhancements: developing and enhancing provincial and territorial computer systems and applications to access services under FOAEA;
- Monitoring: monitoring the effects of systems and administrative changes and enhancements to enforcement mechanisms;
- Maintenance Enforcement Survey: supporting changes to provincial and territorial information systems design to meet the data-collection requirements of the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey managed by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics;
- Innovative Approaches: testing innovative approaches to improve support enforcement mechanisms;
- Public Information: delivering public legal education and information to increase awareness of changes in maintenance enforcement programs; and
- Responses to Workload Increases: implementing administrative changes, system upgrades, staff additions and enhancements to services to meet anticipated demands for variations and new child support orders.
Following implementation of child support guidelines, provincial and territorial governments modified existing programs and services and tested and implemented new approaches. Many of these services are in the areas of child custody and access, as well as child support and maintenance enforcement. For example, many jurisdictions have implemented parent education programs or broadened existing programs to include child support information and to stress front-end solutions such as consent orders. Similarly, mediation services and other alternative program delivery strategies that increase the involvement of both parents in their children’s lives are as effective for resolving child custody disputes as they are in child support cases. In recognition of this and the need to support the continued development and stabilization of such services throughout Canada, the federal government modified the terms of reference and primary areas of activity for funding to include custody and access, as well as support and maintenance enforcement services.
The Child-centred Family Justice Fund, which was introduced in April 2000, has three components:
- Family Justice Initiatives: Activities funded in this component build on recent successful collaborative efforts to enable provinces and territories to develop, pilot, implement and evaluate family justice programs and services that deal with private family law matters in cases of separation and divorce, including child support, support enforcement as well as reciprocal enforcement and custody and access activities that promote the best interests of children.
- Incentive for Special Projects: This component is designed to promote the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the provinces and territories and, in particular, processes to determine, vary or recalculate child support amounts.
- Public Legal Education and Information and Professional Training: This component supports work to enhance knowledge, promote the development of materials and inform Canadians, including the legal community, about child support guidelines, support enforcement measures and programs, custody and access services, and related family law matters. Under this component, the Department of Justice Canada provides funding assistance to community organizations, professional associations and other non-governmental groups involved in promoting public awareness and education or professional development and training for family law professionals. As this report focuses on the programs, services and projects delivered by government departments and agencies, projects funded under this component are not listed.
The Department of Justice Canada identified 11 principles to offer guidance to all levels of government as they decide what projects to propose and approve under the Family Justice Initiatives and the Incentive for Special Projects components.
- The needs and well being of children are paramount.
- No one framework 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. The programs must aim to protect them from violence, conflict, abuse and economic hardship.
- An integrated approach to planning and delivering child support, support enforcement, and custody and access programs and services is encouraged to respond to the long-term service needs of children and families.
- We should encourage mechanisms for resolving non-adversarial disputes early.
- Activities should address the need for evaluation, project monitoring and performance measures.
- Research should advance the family law community’s knowledge of specific issues, inform policy and program discussions, help develop or refine policies or programs and 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.
- We should promote coordinated national, inter-jurisdictional, and international approaches to innovative family justice services and information sharing.
- We need alternatives or modifications to the current court dispute resolution system to reduce cost and delays for parents.
- Programs and services should be efficient and cost effective for the justice system.
The Family Justice Initiatives component is structured and managed in the same manner as was the earlier Child Support Implementation and Enforcement Fund—that is, each jurisdiction is allocated a portion of the available funds based on its population, and must obtain approval of the projects it proposes to implement or maintain in that year. The projects must fall within one of the eight primary areas of activity (PAA) as follows:
The Incentive for Special Projects component is a small amount of funding used to promote the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the provinces and territories, including processes to determine, vary or recalculate child support. Recalculation models must be timely, cost-efficient for parents seeking to have child support recalculated and accessible to parents, and should facilitate agreement between parents on the child support amount. Only provincial and territorial governments can apply for this funding, which is awarded through a competitive process.
In 1996-1997, prior to implementation of Bill C-41, which brought in the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the Department of Justice Canada and the provincial and territorial governments established an annual allocation target for each province and territory based on its population. There have been adjustments to the original allocation to accommodate changes in provincial and territorial planning assumptions and experience. The Department was also able to identify small surpluses each year in some jurisdictions that were then made available to other jurisdictions with implementation and support enforcement demands in excess of their original allocations. The following table identifies the actual allocations by jurisdiction for the period ending 1999‑2000 and projected funding for 2000-2001 through 2002‑2003.
|Prince Edward Island||5,000||128,118||268,001||197,430|
|Prince Edward Island||195,000||181,765||150,000||1,125,314|
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