Understanding court orders and hearings — Information for Aboriginal families

This list explains many of the court orders and hearings for the child protection process. This process applies to you if:

Important: If a social worker from the ministry (or an Aboriginal delegated agency) contacts you or visits your home, you have the right to get legal advice. If the social worker has serious concerns, they may take your child from your home. Call Legal Aid immediately to find out of you qualify for a free lawyer.

Legal Aid
604-408-2172
(Greater Vancouver)
1-866-577-2525 (no charge outside Greater Vancouver)

Ask your lawyer or social worker about getting an Aboriginal child protection mediator to help with your case.


Tip: As you review the terms below, you may find our poster outlining the Aboriginal Child Protection Process helpful.

Report to Court

When you go to court, your social worker or lawyer must give you a copy of the Report to Court. This document should say:

  • why the ministry removed your child from your home or asked for a supervision order,
  • what the ministry tried doing before that, and
  • what the ministry wants to do next.

Access order

An access order says when you can visit your child. If the ministry takes your child from your home, you can apply for access.

Important: Apply for access as soon as you can.

Consent order

If you and the ministry agree about how your child should be cared for, the judge will make a consent order. This means that you won't have to have a full hearing. If you reach a consent order, the judge may not have to make a finding that your child was in need of protection at the protection hearing.

Supervision order without removal

The ministry wants you to follow a certain plan to protect your child. If you agree to do what's asked in the order, your child can stay with you. The terms of the plan are called the supervision terms (see below).

Supervision terms

The ministry will ask for you to meet certain terms and conditions so that your child stays safe. If you agree with these terms, your child may be able to stay in your care under a supervision order (above). You can try to negotiate the terms of the supervision order, either with or without the help of a lawyer.

Important: Make sure you ask the social worker what will happen if you don't agree to some or all of the supervision terms.

Presentation hearing

The first time you go to court. The judge will ask you if you agree with what the ministry wants to do:

  • If you agree with what the ministry is asking for, the judge can make an order right away.
  • If you want to apply for legal aid or want more time, the judge may reschedule the hearing.
  • If you don't agree with what the ministry is asking for, the judge can reschedule a full hearing to learn more about your case.

If the ministry:

  • takes your child from your home, the presentation hearing must start within seven days.
  • applies for a supervision order without removal, the presentation hearing must start within 10 days.

In either case, the ministry will notify you of the hearing date.

Interim supervision order (your child stays with you)

Your child will live with you with the ministry's supervision. The order will include the supervision terms you must follow.  The judge can make this order at the presentation hearing.

Interim supervision order (your child stays with someone else)

Your child will live with someone else (a family member or friend) with the ministry's supervision. The order will say how your child will be cared for.

The judge can make this order at the presentation hearing.

Interim custody order

Your child will stay in foster care for a certain amount of time. The order will say when and how you can visit your child. The judge can make this order at the presentation hearing. ^ Back to top

Protection hearing

At a presentation hearing, the judge decides who will care for your child for a longer period of time. The protection hearing usually follows the presentation hearing. The protection hearing must start no more than 45 days after the presentation hearing ends.

If you and the ministry agree about how your child should be cared for, the judge will make a consent order. This means you won't have to have a full hearing.

Temporary supervision order (your child stays with you)

Your child will live with you, but the ministry will supervise you. The order will include supervision terms that you must follow. The judge can make this order at the protection hearing (above). The order will last for a specific length of time.

Temporary supervision order (your child stays with someone else)

Your child will live with someone else (a family member or friend) with the ministry's supervision. The order will say how your child will be cared for.

The judge can make this order at the protection hearing (above). The order will last for a specific length of time.

Temporary custody order (your child is placed in foster care)

Your child must stay in foster care for a specific length of time. The judge can make this order at the protection hearing (above).

Important: You can apply for an access order.

Continuing custody order

The ministry becomes the permanent guardian of your child. You lose all your guardianship rights. This means you lose the right to make decisions about your child.

The judge will usually only make a continuing custody order if there is a serious problem that can't be fixed within a certain amount of time.

Important: Sometimes you can get an access order even if your child goes into the ministry's continuing custody.^ Back to top

Find out more

The following resources may be of help to you and your family:

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