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Inventory of Reforms

BC Facilitated Planning Meetings Program (FPMP)


Mediated meetings between parents and social workers to resolve issues in child custody cases in a collaborative manner.

Permanent implementation

British Columbia

Body Responsible:
Ministry of Children and Family Development – Child and Family Development Division
Ministry of Attorney – General Dispute Resolution Office

2001: Pilot project initiated in Surrey
2002: Project continued past expiration of the pilot period
2003: Evaluation of the pilot project released

Evaluation of the Surrey Court Project: Facilitated Planning Meeting: Final ReportPDFExternal Link (Dispute Resolution Office, BC Ministry of Attorney General, November 2003). [Report]
Justice Services Branch, Surrey Court Project BackgrounderPDFExternal Link (BC Ministry of Attorney General, April 2004). [Backgrounder]

Related Reforms:
BC Child Protection Mediation Program

Facilitated Planning Meetings were introduced in 2001 as part of the the Surrey Court Project pilot program, which was continued as a permanent program with Facilitated Planning Meetings now available in some areas of the province.

The Surrey Court Project was an initiative of theChild, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) Caseflow Study Committee. The committee was established at the recommendation of the Ombudsman, Dulcie Macallum. In her 1998 report “Getting There: Response to the Recommendations of the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection,” the Ombudsman recommended that the Ministry of Attorney General and the Ministry of Children and Family Development strike a committee to explore the reasons for delays in court decisions regarding children and youth.


The prime objective of the Facilitated Planning Meeting is to make effective decisions for children as soon as possible. It provides an opportunity, early in the court process, for parents and social workers to meet and, with the help of an independent mediator, resolve as many issues as possible in a collaborative manner. The social worker is accompanied by a Court Work Supervisor who has the authority to agree to a service plan and approve allocation of resources.


Description of Reforms:
The basic steps of the Facilitated Planning Meeting process are:


Step 1: Referral Process
A referral to the project may be made by a social worker on one of the participating teams, the FPMP Court Work Supervisor, a parent, the lawyer of a parent, MCFD Director’s Council, or a Judge. The aim of FPMP is to make such referrals as early in the court process as possible.

Report at 3
Steps 2 & 3: Orientation Session
Orientation sessions are held between the mediator and social worker (including the court work supervisor) on the one hand, and parents on the other. Depending on the relationship between the parents, their sessions may be held together or separately. Sessions with other parties are possible as well. Legal counsel may attend these meetings.

The purpose is to prepare parties for the planning meeting by discussing logistics and clarifying parties interests, issues and concerns. Information relevant to the safety of the child(ren) is also exchanged. An Agreement to Participate in the planning meeting may be signed at this stage.

Orientation sessions and planning meetings (as discussed in the next section) are scheduled by the FPMP Administrative Coordinator.

Report at 3
Steps 5 & 6: Planning Meeting
The planning meeting is a mediated session which includes one mediator, the immediate parties (e.g. parents and social worker), and the Court Work Supervisor, and can include parents’ counsel, counsel for the child(ren), Director’s counsel, and other relevant parties. The original expectation was that the meeting would take about 2 hours, and that in some cases a second meeting may be necessary.

When all or some issues are agreed to, a written agreement is created and signed. In some cases this agreement becomes the basis of a consent order. If no issues are resolved, the mediator confirms that the matter will proceed to a hearing.

This meeting is also scheduled by the Administrative Coordinator.

Report at 4
Comparison with Section 22 Mediations under the CFCSA
Section 22 of the CFCSA allows child protection disputes to be referred to mediation for resolution. A Child Protection Mediation Program was established in 1997. The main differences between the FPMP process and other Section 22 mediations are:

While these differences are true in general terms, in the Section 22 mediations discussed in Appendix 2 of this report, the mediations were conducted by the same players and in the same manner as FPMP cases.

Report at 4

Criteria and Methods of Evaluation:
The final evaluation report of the Surrey Court Project’s Facilitated Planning Meeting was released on November 2003. “The methodologies for [the] report consisted of analysis of a range of quantitative data extracted from the FPMP database, and a comparison between FPMP cases and a baseline set of protection cases from the same offices, in terms of the time for cases to reach various milestones and a final disposition” (Report at v).

The final evaluation report contained the following conclusions:

Data and feedback gathered for this report indicates that the FPMP has been a highly successful demonstration project. It is now an ongoing project within the Fraser South Region of MCFD and has expanded to the Simon Fraser Region. It is being actively considered in other areas of the province as a way of expediting child protection cases, reducing court, MCFD and Legal Aid costs, and contributing to more satisfying outcomes for parents, children and social workers.

The primary conclusions that can be drawn at this point are as follows:

Report at 34

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Jan 17, 2014