In British Columbia, provincial law divides the responsibility for guardianship of children into two distinct roles.
- Personal Guardianship involves responsibility for a child's day-to-day personal, health and wellness needs.
- Property Guardianship involves responsibility for a child's legal and financial interests.
When the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA)/Indigenous Child and Family Service Agency (ICFSA) brings a child/youth into their care, they take on the role of personal guardian. Depending on the situation, sometimes, the role of property guardian stays with the existing parents or guardians of the child. At other times, the role of property guardian transfers to the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT).
When the PGT is property guardian, we have the responsibility to look after the financial and legal interests of those children and youth. These responsibilities include:
- Applying for financial benefits
- Managing legal claims for damages due to injury or loss
- Getting certain legal identification
- Helping youth who are becoming adults, set goals and plan for their financial future
When providing these services, the PGT uses trauma-informed approaches and strives to be culturally aware, respectful and inclusive. To learn more about what the PGT does as property guardian, visit our property guardian services page.
Jurisdiction for Indigenous Child and Family Services
On November 25, 2022, the Province passed Bill 38, the Indigenous Self-Government in Child and Family Services Amendment Act. Under Bill 38, a First Nation or Indigenous community can now reclaim responsibility for child and family services.
When reclaiming jurisdiction, First Nations may choose to take on both property and personal guardianship roles or they may choose to enter into an agreement for the PGT to provide property guardianship services for children and youth under their guardianship.
The PGT is committed to supporting First Nations and their communities to be successful in whatever role(s) they take on in child and family services, whether or not they work with us as co-guardians.
Property guardian coordination agreements with the PGT
If a First Nation wishes for the PGT to remain involved as property guardian, we will enter into a property guardian coordination agreement with the Nation. These agreements are specific to how property guardian services will be provided by the PGT for the Nation.
Property guardian coordination agreements include the following:
- Roles and responsibilities of both parties
- Procedures and protocols for communication and sharing information
- Other agreement terms
After a coordination agreement is signed, the PGT will carry out property guardianship duties as stated in the agreement.
We respect Indigenous ways of being and will continue to adapt our services to reflect the values and cultural beliefs of each First Nation that we work with. We will collaborate with the Nations to ensure the best possible outcomes for their children and youth.
You can also read our document on property guardian coordination agreements for more information.
Support to First Nations that choose to take on the role of property guardian
First Nations that choose to retain property guardianship responsibilities and not involve the PGT as property guardian can count on the following support from the PGT:
- Transfer of any active legal or financial issues for their children or youth from the PGT to the Nation
- Provide information about the property guardianship role
- Share our expertise and resources about property guardianship
- Support other identified needs
If you are a member of a First Nation or Indigenous community and would like to learn more, we encourage you to connect with us! You can contact our Child and Youth Services division at email@example.com.