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Legislation surrounding vulnerable persons in Alberta and foster carers

January 22, 2017



Alberta, Canada:

If you meet the following criteria, you can apply be a foster parent:
◾You must be a resident of Alberta.
◾Cohabitating applicants must have been in a stable relationship for at least 12 months prior to applying.
◾You must be at least 18 years old. The maximum age will be determined by the best interests of the child.
◾You have not had an additional child in the past 12 months and/or are not currently expecting an additional child thorough pregnancy or adoption.
◾You must be physically and mentally capable of meeting the child’s needs with no major illness or trauma in the past 12 months.
◾You need to have your own residence (with your own address) separate and apart from other caregivers.

* your:

◦local Child and Family Services Authority office
◦local Delegated First Nations Agency
◦Call 1‑888‑643‑1889

* an application. Your application must be accompanied by:

◦three personal references
◦medical reference
◦criminal record check including vulnerable sector search
◦intervention record check

* your application has been processed, you will need to attend 24 hours of caregiver orientation. These classes will give you an overview of what to expect when caring for a foster child, such as child development, special needs of children in care and supports provided to foster parents as well as help you decide if fostering will be a good fit for you and your family.

* completing orientation, you will need to have a home study completed. The home study determines if the applicant can provide a safe and suitable home for children and addresses a variety of topics such as family history, parenting skills and home safety.

* approval, you will be issued a foster home licence and assigned a foster care support worker who will provide ongoing support and training.

*Although safeguards appear sound on paper, the reality is that there is a great deal of non-compliance as indicated within the following article. Having served as a kinship placement with 2 children who have disabilities that I worked with in the past, I can express from personal experience that screening is tremendously lax. i.e. The children were left with me prior to collection of criminal record check clearances and when home inspection transpired, no visual was performed; the caseworker relied upon word of mouth regarding significant areas such as whether or not firearms were on the premises, location of medicines, etc.:   ;


Do you have criminal record?

To be approved as a foster parent, you need to get a criminal record check. Having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be a foster parent. If you have been convicted of an offence of a violent or sexual nature, your application will be denied. As part of the process, you will have an opportunity to discuss your criminal record and its implications.

Have you been involved with our department regarding the safety and security of a child or adult?

Again to be approved as a foster parent you must agree to a Social Development Record Check to determine if you have endangered the safety and security of a child or adult and this is recorded in our files. Depending on the nature of the contravention your application to foster could be denied.

In Alberta the provincial government has been developing an
integrated, province-wide database system that will contain a very wide
range of police contact information and intelligence from police forces
across the province. The Alberta Law Officers’ Network, or TALON , is
currently scheduled to be brought online in Calgary in spring 2012, with
all other Alberta police forces gaining access by 2013.10
Like the records held in the RCMP’s databases, local police records
can be accessed for a wide range of purposes, including police
background checks. The legal and policy environment surrounding the
collection, retention and disclosure of non-conviction records by local
police services, however, is underdeveloped. As a part of the TALON
initiative a province-wide working group is reviewing and considering
a comprehensive records retention schedule.11 Currently, affected
individuals can ask police to expunge their fingerprints, photographs
and records of charges that did not result in convictions; however,
there is no legal requirement to notify affected persons that such
records exist or how to seek their destruction. Moreover, whether a
destruction request is granted regularly depends on the internal policies
of a particular police service, which often give significant discretion to
individual decision-makers. As a result, there is a significant possibility
that destruction requests will be handled inconsistently.
* Police Background Checks

Many employers and volunteer agencies require police background
checks as a mechanism for screening out potential sex offenders or
other dangerous people. While the level of demand for background
checks across Canada is difficult to quantify, the cost associated with
such checks has received increased attention from policy-makers in
recent years. For example, the Alberta government has recently begun
funding the Police Information Check costs of eligible non-profit and
voluntary-sector organizations.12 This attention from policy-makers
is likely a result of police background checks becoming increasingly
common. As one Canadian media report notes, “Ottawa police
processed more than 40,000 criminal record checks last year, and
demand for the service is growing.”13

Criminal Record Checks
Criminal record checks are the least inclusive type of background
check and will disclose only summary and indictable criminal
convictions referred to in RCMP or local police databases. The results
of a criminal record check are generally released to the individual that
applied for the check, who may then provide this information to the
relevant prospective employer, volunteer agency or other requesting
organization.16  Police Information Checks
The next level of background check, the Police Information Check (PIC),
can contain a much broader range of information and
generally includes a “search of court records, and a query of records
management systems in other police agencies’ jurisdictions.”
The results of this search can disclose many different types of nonconviction
records, including:
• outstanding charges, warrants, judicial orders,
peace bonds and probation and prohibition orders;
• absolute and conditional discharges;
• F amily Court restraining orders;
• dispositions including, but not limited to, withdrawn, dismissed and
not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder; and
• occurrence reports and other police contact information.18
The extent to which information from a local police agency’s records
management systems will be included in a PIC depends on the local
agency’s policies and procedures.19 As these policies and procedures
are ultimately determined and applied by police service management
and staff, individual judgment and discretion can play a significant
role in determining whether or not certain information is included in
a background check. As with criminal record checks, the results of a
PIC are generally released to the applicant, who may then pass the
results along to a prospective employer, volunteer agency or other
requesting organization.
Vulnerable Sector Checks
The third level of background check is the vulnerable sector check.
This type of check will include all of the information in a PIC, as well as
any information about select sexual and violent offenses for which the
offender has been pardoned.20 As with other types of checks, the results
of a vulnerable sector check are generally released to the applicant, who
may then pass the results along to a prospective employer, volunteer
agency or other requesting organization.

Because there are no statutory limits in the Privacy Act, it appears
that the RCMP can retain non-conviction records for as long as it wants,
except where the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Criminal Records
Act provide otherwise. The CRA states that records of absolute and
conditional discharges must be removed from the RCMP’s databases
after one and three years, respectively.34 Paradoxically, similar
requirements do not exist for other non-conviction records, such as
those relating to withdrawn charges and stays of proceedings, that
do not involve findings of guilt.    


1. What is a Vulnerable Sector search and why is it required? Is there an additional cost for a Vulnerable Sector check? What does it mean if I am required to provide fingerprints to complete a Vulnerable Sector Check?

A Vulnerable Sector Search refers to an individual who will be working with a person or organization responsible for:
•the well-being of children under the age of 18;
•vulnerable persons who, because of their age, a disability, or other circumstances, whether temporary or permanent, are in a position of dependence on others or are otherwise at greater risk than the general population of being harmed by person in a position of authority or trust relative to them.

Vulnerable Sector checks may be required by teachers, social workers, day-care workers, nurses and children’s sports coaches.

Vulnerable Sector verification determines the existence of a criminal record and/or a sexual offence conviction (if present) for which an individual has received a record suspension (pardon). Recent changes made by the RCMP means an increased number of applicants must submit their fingerprints to the RCMP National Repository of Criminal Records for this purpose. Fingerprints obtained for this purpose are destroyed by the RCMP after a period of 90 days.

The Edmonton Police Service is required to collect a fee of $25.00 on behalf of the RCMP when fingerprints are part of a vulnerable sector search.

Please do not be alarmed if you are asked to provide your fingerprints for a vulnerable sector search. This does not imply that you are being accused of having committed a sexual offence. It simply means that either your name or gender and date of birth match that of a pardoned sex offender in the RCMP National Repository of Criminal Records. Your fingerprints are required to verify that you are not the individual contained in this database. If you have received notification to be fingerprinted for a Vulnerable Sector search, please respond within45 days to the Police Information Check Section office.

IMPORTANT – A Vulnerable Sector search can only be conducted by the police agency in the jurisdiction in which you reside. For example, if you reside in Sherwood Park, but are planning to coach minor hockey in Edmonton, you must have your Vulnerable Sector search completed by the Strathcona County (Sherwood Park) RCMP.

For further information regarding a Vulnerable Sector search, please visit the RCMP website and follow the link under Vulnerable Sector Verification.

1. What information is disclosed in a Police Information Check•Criminal Records – adult and youth (includes indictable, dual procedure and summary

conviction offences)
•Pending and outstanding charges and outstanding warrants for arrest
•Canada-wide police files/information reports
•Relevant occurrences
•Records of not criminally responsible by reasons of Mental Disorder pursuant to s.16(1) cc (disclosed if relevant)
•Judicial Orders while in effect
•Probation orders, prohibition orders, peace bonds and recognizance conditions
•Vulnerable sector records (pardoned sex offender)
•Absolute discharge for one year period
•Stay of proceedings for one year period
•Conditional discharge for three year period
•Alternative measures for one year period


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