Child and Youth Legal Centre
The Child and Youth Legal Centre is committed to improving the well-being of children and youth in British Columbia through the advancement of their legal rights. The role of the Centre is to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children and youth in BC.
Legal Centre FAQ: Children and Youth
This section includes common questions asked by Children and Youth. This information is also available as a downloadable PDF.
The Child and Youth Legal Centre can help children and youth who are up to 19 years old. Even if you are older than 19, if the legal problem started before you turned 19, we may be able to help.
The Child and Youth legal Centre provides legal help for young people who are experiencing problems relating to family law, child protection, a breach of your human rights and many other legal issues. If you’re not sure if that includes you, call us and find out. We can help you figure out what you need.
We help children and youth to make sure that their rights, interests and points of view are heard and respected.
Our intake worker will listen to you and probably ask a few questions. Depending on what you need, you may be given an appointment with a lawyer. Even if we aren’t able to help you, we can provide you with other resources to help you solve your problem.
If our intake worker makes you an appointment with a lawyer, our lawyer may be able to meet with you on the phone instead of in the office. Just ask.
No, the service is free for children and youth.
Legal Centre FAQ: Adults
This section includes common questions asked by Adults. This information is also available as a downloadable PDF.
The Child and Youth Legal Centre can help children and youth up to 19 years old. If they are able to form and express their views on matters that affect them, they may be eligible for our services. Even if the youth is older than 19, if the legal problem started before they turned 19, we may be able to help.
Our experienced lawyers provide a range of services for children and youth from confidential summary legal advice through to full legal representation at court.
The lawyers can provide legal advice and representation for children and youth in a number of areas including child protection, family law, and human rights. Where we do not provide full services, we may be able to provide some legal advice or a referral to an agency who can help. If you’re not sure if that includes the problem you are concerned about, call us and find out. We can help you figure out what you need. If we can’t help you with that issue, we can help direct you to someone who can.
We don’t provide legal assistance in financial matters (these are otherwise covered by the Public Guardian and Trustee), in Youth Criminal Justice matters (free legal representation is available through the Legal Services Society), or in immigration and refugee matters.
Our intake worker will probably ask you a few questions. Depending on what the child or youth needs, they may be referred to a lawyer for an appointment. Even if we aren’t able to help, we can provide you with other resources to help you solve the problem.
It is the right of a child or a youth to have access to justice and to receive legal advice. When adults are making decisions that affect young people, the children have the right to say what they think should happen and to have those opinions considered in coming to a final decision.
The lawyer will have a confidential consultation with the young person and will explain the legal process and relevant law. The lawyer may represent the child or youth in court and for any negotiated settlements. Throughout the process, the lawyer will ensure that the young person’s views and interests are put forward. The lawyer will explain the final outcome.
Yes. The Centre invites the young person to bring a support person with them if they wish and the lawyer may meet with the young person and the support person initially to get background information but the appointment will be with the lawyer and the young person only. If there are any concerns about this, the concerns should be brought up prior to the appointment.
Not necessarily. Most adults will naturally give the views of teenagers greater weight than those of a preschooler, as a child’s ability to form and express their opinions will develop with age. Regardless of the age of the child, however, the Judge will make an order that he or she believes is in the young person’s best interest. In making that order, the Judge must take into account the views of the child or young person regardless of their age.
Not always. The Centre must prioritize the provision of legal services. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable children and youth and those with multiple overlapping legal issues.
The services are free to the child or the youth. The Child and Youth Legal Centre reserves the right to apply for reimbursement of legal services against another party to the proceeding where that party is not a young person.
Yes, in some circumstances. The Centre must be notified prior to any Order being made concerning the Centre.
Yes. If our intake worker makes the child or youth an appointment with a lawyer, our lawyer may be able to meet with the young person on the phone instead of at the office. Just ask.
Our two experienced lawyers are here to provide legal advice and assistance to children and youth in British Columbia.
Child and Youth Lawyer
For the past 27 years, Suzette Narbonne has worked to improve access to justice for the less fortunate through both her legal practice and her professional leadership.
She began her career in 1990 with Legal Aid Manitoba where she served isolated communities in the northern part of the province and conducted free legal advice clinics for First Nations Communities. Five years later, she moved to Prince Rupert where she continued her commitment to low-income people by taking legal aid cases throughout northern BC and by working with anti-poverty organizations. Since 2010, she has been based in Sechelt but continues to provide services throughout the province. Her practice has focussed on family law, child protection, criminal litigation and human rights representation. She has mentored many lawyers through the Canadian Bar Association, has served as a Governor for the Law Foundation of BC, as a Bencher of the Law Society of BC and as the Chair of the Legal Services Society. Currently, she serves as an elected member of the Provincial Council of the Canadian Bar Association, BC branch. She joined the Child and Youth Legal Centre as a lawyer in October, 2017.
Donna Maser has practiced family law for the past 20 years. She has been on the Attorney General’s roster for providing legal advice to children in care, has prepared “Hear the Child” reports as court ordered, and has represented children in guardian disputes. From 1992 – 1998 she was on staff with Sto:lo Tribal Council/Sto:lo Nation in Chilliwack and since has represented indigenous clients in family matters. She is a mediator and arbitrator. She was a long-standing member of the Legal Services Society Family Tariff Advisory Committee. She has mentored law students since 2012 through the Canadian Bar Association and the UBC Allard School of Law. She has now commenced employment as managing lawyer for the Child and Youth Legal Centre.