Government of New Brunswick

The provincial government is proposing new, stand-alone legislation for child and youth well-being in New Brunswick.  

This new legislation aims at modernizing portions of the 40-year-old Family Services Act.

This important legislation focuses on the interests, protection, participation and well-being of children/youth, and the health and well-being of families.

The overall approach is child-centered, rather than parent-centered. It recognizes how early detection and intervention is critical in matters where the well-being of a child or youth may be at risk.

  • This legislation is intended to be progressive, clear and easy to read and understand.
  • It will align the definitions for “child” and “youth” with those in the Child Youth and Senior Advocate Act.
  • It recognizes the importance of the child or youth’s connection to their family, culture, language, religion, faith or spiritual beliefs and community, especially for Indigenous children and youth.
  • It is intended to improve information-sharing between the Department and its various partners.
  • It aims to decrease formality and increase flexibility for court processes.
  • It improves decision-making authority for kin who are caring for a child or youth.
  • It includes a priority of placement that recognizes the importance of family, kin relationships and community to a child or youth who is not living in the parental home due to protection concerns.
  • The new Act will also expand on provisions to include circumstances under which a child or youth may be at substantial risk of harm which would permit the Minister to intervene before harm has occurred.


Comprehensive Consultation process

Consultation has been an important element in the development of this new piece of legislation. All input and feedback from various sources was carefully reviewed and considered.

  • 2020 – Discussion paper / online survey / public feedback process
  • 2020 - Series of in-person stakeholder engagement sessions with child advocacy stakeholders, including the Child and Youth Advocate, the two schools of Social Work located in the province, and the First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies, among others
  • 2021, youth engagement activities – Social Development in collaboration with the Child and Youth Advocate.
  • Input from staff of the Department of Social Development and other relevant provincial departments.
Mechanism for future revision

The new legislation includes a mechanism for future review 5 years after proclamation and every 7 years thereafter.

This will provide regular opportunities to bring forward any necessary changes to this new piece of legislation.

It is expected that both the Act and the supporting regulations will be proclaimed by early 2023.