According to Article 38 of the Youth Protection Act (hereinafter "YPA"), if the security or development of the child is considered compromised, then the Director of Youth Protection may intervene. However, the Director of Youth Protection’s decisions must always respect two principles:
1. Any decision must be taken in the interest of the child (Article 3 of the YPA, which refers to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 33 of the Civil Code of Quebec), and
2. Each decision must aim at keeping the child in his/her original family environment.
Centering on the Child’s Best Interests
The child will be considered in a compromising situation when he or she is in a situation of abandonment, neglect, very serious threat, poor psychological or physical treatment, sexual or physical abuse or linked to very significant behavioral problems or a nonchalant attitude leading to complete indifference from the parents.
The Director of Youth Protection may be made aware of a compromising situation by the report of an individual, who will remain anonymous. Following this report, the Director of Youth Protection will make a summary analysis of the situation to see if the said report is accepted for evaluation and further analysis. Nonetheless, even before further analysis, the Director of Youth Protection has the power to ask for safeguard measures, for example, to remove the child from his or her environment, if there are substantial grounds for believing that it would be required to maintain the child’s safety.
Thus, the Director of youth protection authorities must promote and prioritize the child’s reintegration with the original parents and environment. However, should it not be possible or not in the child’s best interests, he or she will be given over to a close member of the child’s extended family, in order for him/her to be in an environment as close as possible to his or her original family, promoting, as much as possible, his or her stability.
Sonia Rotondo, attorney-at-law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats Inc.