The senior officials responsible for child welfare in B.C. have signed an accord they hope will improve an often difficult relationship.

The independent Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, signed an agreement Monday with the new provincial Minister for Children and Family Development, Mary McNeil.

Turpel-Lafond often clashed with the previous minister, Mary Polak, and her deputy. Turpel-Lafond accused them of dragging their feet on needed improvements to the child welfare system. She even took the government to court to ensure she got internal documents she needed to do her job.

But she's optimistic there are better times ahead.

"This protocol in particular is the beginning of a new era in the relationship," she said. "So it's a very practical, pragmatic good step and I think that's good news."

Turpel-Lafond and McNeil said the protocol will ensure the children's representative has all the tools she needs to do her job.

"It really all boils down to what i think is really important in any relationship and that's respect," said McNeil.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies