Effective September 1, 2011, families who receive benefits from the Ministry of Social Development through the Child in the Home of a Relative (CIHR) Program, and who started to receive CIHR benefits before 2007 will be required to undergo screening checks. In 2007, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) introduced screening for all new CIHR applicants. Families who were already receiving CIHR benefits were exempt. The ministry recently reviewed this decision, and added screening for all families receiving CIHR benefits as a precautionary step to help ensure that no children are being put at risk.
Under the new screening requirements, each person age 18 or over living in a home that receives CIHR benefits must provide written consent for MCFD to conduct screening checks (unless that person has been screened before). Two kinds of checks will be done:
- a Prior Contact Check: this check reviews any contact the adult may have had with either MCFD or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency; and
- a criminal record check
If another adult (aged 18 or over) moves into the home or another child in the home turns 18, that person must agree to be screened by MCFD for continued CIHR eligibility.
MCFD will use the information obtained by these checks to decide whether the household poses any evidence of risk to the child on whose behalf CIHR benefits are paid.
Families must participate in the screening process to continue to receive CIHR benefits. Caregivers who agree to the screening will continue to receive CIHR benefits as long as the child remains in their home.
The ministry says that screening will begin with families caring for the youngest and most vulnerable children, and that they plan to complete the screening process by March 2012.
This change in policy affects families caring for approximately 1,800 children and youth in BC. Affected families will receive letters notifying them of the new policy and requesting that they fill out consent forms agreeing to both kinds of checks.
Our thanks to Alison Ward, Community Advocate Support Line lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society for providing the above entry.