Make a Complaint About Child or Family Service
If you have a complaint about services, actions or decisions provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA):
- Try to resolve the complaint with your social worker
- If there is no resolution, call 1 877 387-7027 and ask to speak to a complaints specialist
It's important to speak up if you:
- Think you're being treated unfairly and/or in a disrespectful manner
- Think staff are not being clear about their expectations of you
- Think you're not being included in case planning and decision-making
- Are concerned about being able to access family or child services
- Think the rights of a child in care have been breached
Remember: It's everyone's responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect. Before making a complaint:
Children and teens: Young people are also encouraged to speak up.
Licensed child care facilities: There is a separate process for complaints about licensed child care facilities.
Referral to another review process: Not all complaints are resolved through this process. You will be referred to another process if:
- Your complaint is a matter currently being heard in court
- Your complaint is related to youth justice services
- You're a foster caregiver making a complaint about services or actions related to yourself (and you're not acting on behalf of a child or family)
How the Complaint Process Works
Step 1: When you call, a complaint specialist will:
- Speak with you to get the facts straight
- Explain the complaints process and answer any questions
- Send a letter to confirm that your concerns were heard and understood
Step 2: You will be given two options for resolving the complaint. Either process can take up to 30 days to complete – unless you agree to an extension:
- Resolution: Work together with staff, using a flexible problem-solving approach, to address your concerns
- Administrative review: Someone not involved with the matter is assigned to review your complaint and make recommendations – an administrative review can be requested at any time during the complaint process
Step 3: Specific details from your complaint are used to review the actions or services provided by the organization or individual you're complaining about.
Step 4: Once your complaint has been either worked through or reviewed, you will receive a letter that explains the outcome and provides the reasons why a particular decision was made.
Step 5: Making a complaint does not always mean the decision or action will be changed. If you disagree or are unhappy with a decision, request an administrative review to have someone else take another look at your complaint.
If you think that any of the decisions, conclusions or recommendations reached through the Ministry’s complaints process is unfair, you can request an external review through the Office of the Ombudsperson.
What to Expect
The complaint process is guided by the following principles:
- Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect
- It is open to all traditions, cultures, values and beliefs
- The rights, best interests and views of the child or youth will guide the process – no matter who initiates complaint
- There aren't any negative consequences for anyone as a result of making a complaint – for example, you can say "I don’t agree" or "I'm not happy with the outcome" without being punished
- Each person's views are heard – especially by those who make decisions about that person or their family
- The confidentiality and privacy of individuals and families is respected – unless abuse is reported and needs to be investigated
- Everyone has the right to involve an advocate, relative or friend to support them through the process
- All complaints are responded to quickly
- Staff will work actively to resolve complaints
An advocate is someone who helps you make a complaint by:
- Identifying problems that need to be fixed
- Attending meetings with you
- Finding the right words to say
- Giving you the confidence to speak up
An advocate can be a trusted friend, family member, foster parent, teacher or social worker. They must have your agreement before they can participate, and they should not take over or make decisions for you.
Office of the Ombudsperson: The role of this independent third party is to help find answers to your questions and make sure you're treated fairly by provincial government services.