*To protect the client's confidentiality, we have not used her real name.
The Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) removed Cathy’s* children from their home because it had concerns about her alcohol use. Cathy worked hard to address those concerns by staying sober and attending alcohol counselling and workshops with the Native Courtworkers & Counselling Association of BC. When she came to one of our Parents Legal Centres (PLC) for help, she wanted her children back at home as soon as possible.
“When I first came in, I was feeling really nervous, bad, upset, and angry. I knew I would have to hear about VACFSS’s process for getting my children back and I was worried that my voice wouldn’t be heard again,” she said.
But Cathy’s hard work paid off. Her children were returned to her care; first under a Supervision Order, then without supervision terms.
Right from the start, she said, the PLC staff were able to assist her to get access to her children. “It was reassuring that you guys were there to help me. And you really helped me understand the child protection process a little more without me getting so angry.”
Getting her children back was not her only challenge, however. Cathy also faced “demoviction” from the house they were living in. That’s where the PLC’s services also made a difference. The centre’s advocate negotiated a compensation agreement with the landlord to give Cathy five months free rent and the cost of moving expenses. The advocate also got Cathy on the shortlist at four new BC Housing developments.
“It was a big help making sure that we kept housing. I had a secure place for my kids to be. If I didn’t have [the advocate’s] help, we would have been out of housing and my kids would have been back in care. So it played a big role in helping me keep my children.”
The PLC continues to support Cathy and her family to ensure the family remains together.
“You do not just see us as a file, you see us as a family and you helped keep that together,” Cathy said of the PLC.