Federal Funding of Provincial and Territorial Child Support, Support Enforcement and Child Custody and Access Projects

YUKON

PAA 1: PROJECT COORDINATION

Project Coordination

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To facilitate planning for and implementation of child support guidelines.
Description
The Yukon Department of Justice appointed a project officer to facilitate planning for implementation of child support guidelines. Reporting to the Director of Court Services, the officer is responsible for project development, federal-provincial-territorial activities, training, public education, communications, research planning and related activities. In 1999-2000, Yukon began the transition from project to continuing operational status and scaled back the responsibilities of the project officer. Court Services, the Yukon Public Legal Education Association and the Women's Advocate help the officer with the distribution of child support public information materials. Yukon continued to participate in federal-provincial-territorial planning and consultation processes dealing with child support, enforcement and other family law issues.

PAA 2: FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL-TERRITORIAL CONSULTATIONS ON FAMILY LAW

National Consultations on Custody, Access and Child Support

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To coordinate family law consultations in Yukon.
Description
The Yukon Department of Justice undertook consultations allowing a cross-section of the territory's population to participate in the discussions regarding family law matters in Whitehorse on June 11, 2001.

PAA 3: FAMILY JUSTICE ENHANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS

Training

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To prepare staff for implementation of child support guidelines.
Description
All affected staff received training in 1997-1998. Special training was provided to the staff who had responsibility for the Child Support Guidelines Information Office and phone line. Training was provided before implementation of the guidelines, and follow-up training is given when needed. The territory continues to issue periodic information bulletins for family law professionals and service providers about new procedures and developments, as well as delivering training to Court Services staff as required.

Territorial Guidelines Review and Amendments

Duration
1998-2000
Goal
To develop, adopt and implement the Federal Child Support Guidelines in territorial legislation.
Description
The Yukon government began planning for amendments to the Family Property and Support Act to provide for adoption of the Federal Child Support Guidelines in cases under territorial jurisdiction in 1997. The resulting amendments were adopted and came into force on April 1, 2000. The implementation work included public information sessions, the distribution of communications materials, training and information sessions for judges, the legal profession and others, and the revision of court forms.

Child Support Guidelines Information Office

Duration
1997-2000
Goal
To provide information to the public on the guidelines and to help parties with variation applications.
Description
In 1997-1998, the Yukon Department of Justice established the Child Support Guidelines Information Office in the Whitehorse courthouse and set up a dedicated phone line. A part-time clerk was assigned to the office and phone line and was responsible for answering inquiries, making referrals to other services and preparing and distributing information packages. A Child Support Information Officer was also available on a part-time basis to provide information to the public on the Guidelines, tax changes and settlement options, and to help parties with variation applications for child support consent orders. This position was discontinued after two months due to limited demand. Since 1999, information has been available from the project officer and through the Maintenance Enforcement Program office in the Whitehorse courthouse. Information on the guidelines is also available from the Yukon Public Legal Education Association and from the Women's Advocate at the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre in Whitehorse. Information on the guidelines is also distributed to a number of service providers in communities throughout Yukon.

Parent Education

Duration
1998-2001
Goal
To help parents better understand the impact of separation and divorce on their children.
Description
In 1998-1999 the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Women's Directorate and the departments of Health and Social Services and Education pilot tested a parenting after divorce program using the Manitoba model. The Department of Justice now contracts with Partners for Children, a local service organization, to organize and facilitate the sessions and to train additional facilitators from other organizations to deliver the program outside of Whitehorse.

PAA 4: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISMS TO DETERMINE, VARY OR RECALCULATE CHILD SUPPORT

Court-connected Mediation

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To establish a framework for introduction of a court-connected mediation service.
Description
The Yukon Department of Justice is considering a pilot project to provide "court-based, court-connected" mediation services to parents dealing with child support, custody and access issues. The Department hired a contractor to develop a framework dealing with issues such as the connection between the court and the mediation service, administrative arrangements, costs to users, the selection and assignment of mediators, the fee structure, and mediator qualifications. The report has been received and Yukon will undertake further internal discussions before deciding when and how to initiate the pilot project.

PAA 5: SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES

Variation Application Assistance Initiative

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To provide assistance and information to parents making variation applications.
Description
Some parents seeking to vary child support orders are unable, for various reasons, to obtain legal services or alternative assistance. In the absence of legal representation, some parents have difficulty proceeding with applications and often consume court time with matters that could have been readily resolved outside of court. To address this issue, the Yukon Department of Justice hired a family law lawyer to review the law and the current resources available to parents and to propose a project to develop a child support variation program that is cost effective and accessible to Yukoners. The consultant's report included the project outline, scope, guidelines, options and evaluation criteria for the implementation of the Support Variation Assistance Initiative. Yukon is in the process of reviewing the options put forward by the consultant and is attempting to establish partnerships with various organizations to undertake the pilot project in 2001-2002 to provide parents in these circumstances with individualized information and assistance. The initiative will be evaluated.

FOAEA Enhancements

Duration
1997-1998 and 1999-2000
Goal
To establish online access to Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance (FOAEA) enhancements.
Description
The territory purchased hardware and applications to establish access to the FOAEA system in Ottawa, but has had difficulties establishing fully satisfactory access due to the territory's computer firewall. Until this problem is resolved, maintenance enforcement officers must rely on a central computer to obtain required data.

Pilot Innovative Approaches to Improving Collection Mechanisms

Duration
1997-1998
Goal
To improve collection mechanisms.
Description
Yukon created a tracking investigative officer position to reduce collection problems associated with the seasonal nature of the Yukon workforce. The officer, who also served as a deputy sheriff, used government databases and field investigations to locate defaulters.

National Maintenance Enforcement Survey

Duration
1997-1998 and 1999-2001
Goal
To implement information system applications to deliver data for the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey.
Description
In 1997-1998, the territory determined that it was not feasible to adapt its existing information system to meet Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' requirements for the national survey. It is now working toward implementation of a replacement system (see below) that will provide, among other things, a capacity to contribute data to the survey.

Maintenance Enforcement System Development PAA 7: POLICY, RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

Duration
1997-1998 and 1999-2001
Goal
To review and recommend a replacement for the Maintenance Enforcement Program's computer system.
Description
Since 1997-1998, the program has been attempting to identify a cost-effective replacement for its existing mainframe information system. One of the options identified for consideration involved customizing a system from another jurisdiction. However, a requirements analysis and other assessments of that option, completed in 1998-1999, demonstrated that the cost of modifying such an application would have been more expensive than building an entirely new one. Accordingly, the Department of Justice has let a contract for the development of a new information system that will meet the program's needs as identified by the requirements analysis.

Monitoring Impacts

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To monitor the impact and effect of the legislative changes in family law.
Description
Yukon participates in federal-provincial-territorial research and evaluation activities. It has also developed a research and evaluation strategy for the Yukon Child Support Guidelines and continues to collect data for the national Survey of Child Support Awards.

PAA 8: PUBLIC AWARENESS AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

Communications and Public Information

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To provide information on child support guidelines to the public.
Description
Since the spring of 1997, Yukon has maintained a proactive public and professional information program. It has produced and distributed information bulletins, mail-outs and press releases. It has also made information available through the print and broadcast media, including public service announcements in Kaska and Gwitch' in. In 1997, the government established a public enquiry line. Since 1999, telephone questions about the guidelines have been directed to the project officer. Information can also be obtained from the Maintenance Enforcement Program office, the Yukon Public Legal Education Association (YPLEA) and the Women's Advocate in Whitehorse. YPLEA and the government have also produced an updated guide for family practice lawyers. Other communications and information services directed to family law professionals and service providers include guidelines bulletins covering recent developments and changes, a child support resources binder for service providers and an annual workshop on family law and child support issues for service providers.

For more information about Yukon's services and programs, contact:

Mr. Paul Cowan
Acting Director, Court Services
Yukon Department of Justice
PO Box 2703 2134 Second Avenue
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Telephone: (867) 667-5365

Ms. Lori Whitson
Manager, Yukon Department of Justice
PO Box 2703
2134 Second Avenue
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Telephone: (867) 667-3038

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