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Secure Care Act
Ministry for Children and Families
British Columbia

Secure Care


The Secure Care Act creates a new option for addressing the needs of youth at very high risk of harm. Under the act, it will be possible to safely detain that small number of youth who are in danger of extreme harm or death.

The Secure Care Act itself provides a legislative framework — it sets out the purpose, criteria, Charter of Rights and Freedoms safeguards and procedural matters. In addition, the act creates a set of rights for youth detained under it. The act was passed last July and will be proclaimed when the consultation on regulations is concluded.

How the act works to protect children

Resolving problems that lead to high risk behaviours is not easy, research shows that one of the most important factors is reconnecting youth with a healthy community. Prevention, early intervention and crisis support are essential elements of a continuum of care for at-risk youth. Secure Care is a small but important part of the continuum of care for children in British Columbia.

Once the act is proclaimed, a parent, guardian or the Director of Secure Care will be able to apply to the independent secure care board to have a young person assessed for secure care.

Members of the Secure Care Board will review the application. The Board will look for and determine if there are other less intrusive options available to that child or youth. If not, it will issue a secure care certificate according to the following criteria, as set out in the act:

  • the child or youth faces a high risk of harm from their behaviour
  • the child or youth is unwilling or unable to take steps to reduce that risk
  • less intrusive measures are not available or do not adequately reduce the risk
  • a period of secure care would be in the child or youth's best interests.

The Board may grant a certificate authorizing detainment of a young person for up to 30 days for safety assessment and planning. In exceptional cases, the board may extend this period by granting up to two more certificates.

In emergencies, young people can be detained for no more than 72 hours in a secure care facility without board approval. In these situations, a child or youth can be referred to the Director of Secure Care by:

  • Police
  • Ministry for Children and Families staff
  • Family or friends
  • Community service providers

The Secure Care Board must review the emergency detainment as soon as possible and no young person will be detained for more than 72 hours without the circumstances being considered by the Board.

The ministry is planning to have an interim Chair for the Secure Care Board appointed within the next few months and to implement the act in the fall of 2001.

Protecting the rights of youth

The Secure Care Act includes safeguards to protect the rights of young people to make decisions about their lives:

  • Every child subject to a hearing will be notified of his or her rights, including the right to legal counsel and the right to express his or her views.
  • Any matter decided by the Secure Care Board in the child's absence may be reconsidered with his or her input.
  • All young people detained under the act will have a comprehensive assessment and intervention plan of care developed. Copies of these documents will be filed with the Children's Commissioner.
  • The Child, Youth and Family Advocate must be notified of every secure care hearing.
  • A set of rights for youth is enshrined within the Secure Care Act.

Consultation process is underway

Extensive discussions are now underway with stakeholders, to assist in the development of regulations, policies and procedures to implement secure care.

Meetings are being held to provide information about the Secure Care Act and to discuss its implementation. Through these meetings, issues are being identified that will require a more detailed and focussed discussion. There will also be specific outreach to service providers in high impact communities.

Aboriginal groups will be a priority in this consultation process. The ministry will seek out aboriginal communities to ensure their input on how secure care can work for aboriginal children and their families.

In addition to general comments and suggestions, stakeholders are being asked for advice and suggestions on the questions listed below:

  • What characteristics or values should underlie secure care intervention services?
  • Given the importance of decisions made by the Secure Care Board, how will these individuals be selected?
  • What measures must be in place to address the specific needs of aboriginal youth that may need the intervention offered by the Secure Care Act?
  • How should Secure Care work for youth who live in, or come from, small or remote communities?
  • How can we balance the rights of the individual with health and safety concerns?
  • How should Secure Care be integrated with existing community services?
  • What should the assessment process, required under the Act, look like?
  • What facility criteria should be established? For example: location, management structure, how many, size, and building environment (security) issues.


The input and feedback accumulated through the consultation process will ensure that the ministry develops regulations, policies and procedures that are comprehensive, workable and keep the needs of the youth and their communities at the forefront.

Note: Written submissions must be received by February 1, 2001.

For further information please contact:

  • Secure Care Implementation Team
    Ministry for Children & Families
    PO Box 9718 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC, V8W 9S1
    Fax 250-387-2059 Telephone 250-387-0258
    or call Enquiry BC at 1-800-663-7867
    Or go to the ministry's web site: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca

"Secure Care" … [Gov. Reports]

Created: June 10, 2001
Last modified: June 10, 2001
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