As a parenting coordinator, I often want to learn more about how the child is feeling about the things the parents disagree on. In fact, I have a responsibility under the law to do so.
One way to do this is to retain a professional to interview the child and prepare a Voice of the Child Report.
In my experience, these reports are very helpful, though they are often quite expensive for most PC clients and also can take a long time to complete.
I have never interviewed children myself, even though I am authorized to do so as a PC, because I did not feel qualified.
Enter the BC Hear the Child Society. This well-established not-for-profit has been training professionals to interview children and provide non-evaluative Reports to the court for decades. It has established great practices and advocates for accessible ways to hear the views and preferences of children in any decision-making process that affects them.
Courts in BC routinely will order a Hear the Child Report, and mediators, arbitrators and parenting coordinators either do them themselves or arrange for them to be done.
I took the training over a year ago and found it very useful. The process is a straightforward and respectful means of providing the court, parents, parenting coordinator, arbitrator or mediator with a verbatim report of the wishes as expressed by the child.
Since I took the training, I have started offering this affordable service. You can read more about it on our website here.
And now, the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) has partnered with the BC Hear the Child Society to bring this access to justice option to Ontario. The two organizations are offering a very low-cost joint training to encourage professionals to try this model out; and an Ontario roster of qualified professionals will be established as well. I will be speaking at this training, not only as someone who believes in this model of child-inclusive process, but also to address the case law on the topic.
I am honoured to be among the first Ontario FDR professionals to join this roster and hope I will have lots of company soon!
Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about Hear the Child Reports or about the upcoming training October 18-19, 2022.