Since 2007, British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth has supported our province’s young people and their families in dealing with the provincial child and youth welfare system.
The Representative also provides oversight to this system and makes recommendations to improve it.
The Representative is a non-partisan, independent officer of the Legislature, reporting directly to the Legislative Assembly and not a government ministry.
In November 2005, the Honourable Ted Hughes was appointed to conduct an independent review of British Columbia’s child protection system. More than 70 individuals with special expertise and over 300 child welfare groups contributed to the review. Five months later, he submitted the B.C. Children and Youth Review to the provincial government. The review contained 62 recommendations for changes to the child welfare system, including the creation of an independent advocacy and oversight body – the Representative for Children and Youth.
In May 2006, B.C. passed the Representative for Children and Youth Act, establishing the Legislative Assembly’s authority to appoint a new officer of the Legislature as the Representative for Children and Youth. In November of that year, an all-party Special Committee unanimously recommended that Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond be appointed as B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth. Mary Ellen was then re-appointed to a second five-year term in 2011.
On Nov. 27, 2016, Mary Ellen’s second term ended and Bernard Richard was appointed Acting Representative for Children and Youth.
On Feb. 16, 2017, Bernard was confirmed by the British Columbia Legislature as the province's second Representative for Children and Youth. Bernard resigned the position effective Aug. 31, 2018.
On Aug. 31, 2018, Jennifer Charlesworth was appointed Acting Representative for Children and Youth.