Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strengthening the Child Welfare System: An Open Letter to the New Minister of Children & Family Development

BC Association of Social Workers

For Immediate Release

June 12, 2009

The BC Association of Social Workers welcomes and congratulates the Honourable Mary Polak, who has been named the Minister of Children & Family Development and Minister of State for Child Care.

As the professional association for social workers, BCASW represents the voices of BCASW members and allies working in the health and social service sector around the province of BC. We are child protection social workers, child & youth mental health clinicians, health care social workers, community and family support workers, social policy experts and academics teaching and mentoring the next generations of social workers in BC.

We also speak to and advocate for improvements to services for our most vulnerable citizens, many of whom often have no voice in the social and public policies that dramatically impact their health, well being and lives – children and youth, families, seniors, people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, addictions and others.

At the beginning of this new administration, we would like to take this opportunity to provide recommendations to strategically strengthen the child welfare and social service system. These strategic actions include the following:

* Build a foundation based on timely, strength-based and effective intervention based on best practices and collaborating with families, communities and a broad range of stakeholders to improve safety and ensure children have their needs met. Implementation of the human rights principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the mandate, vision and scope of MCFD’s mission would go a very long way toward improving and strengthening BC’s child welfare system and improving outcomes for our children;

* Increase and improve accessibility to child care for promoting women’s participation in the labour market and to enhance developmental and early learning opportunities for all BC children;

* Set strategic goals and targets to reduce child and family poverty year-by-year and implement financial strategies to increase family income;

* Increase the capacity of the child protection system by ensuring adequate staffing, reducing caseloads, workload and administrative burden and prioritizing training, professional development, mentoring and improved supervision;

* Adequately fund community and professional prevention, intervention and support services to at-risk families and child & youth mental health and addictions services across BC;

* Ensure that there is inclusive and broad consultation regarding Recognition and Reconciliation and changes to the Aboriginal child welfare system and provide adequate funding to Aboriginal agencies engaging in support and child protection services, and building their infrastructures;

* Increase transparency, accountability and oversight of the provision of services and supports to children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities and special needs and ensure that families and caregivers receive the support they require to care for their loved ones;

* Strategically break down barriers to collaboration between child welfare, health, education and youth criminal justice systems and enhance supports to vulnerable young people;

* Increase oversight and responsibility for the care and support of children and youth in foster care, in Kith and Kin and Out of Care Placements with Others, in Child in Home of Relative arrangements and youth in custody and aging out of foster care;

* Invest in strategic affordable housing initiatives that offer a continuum of housing and support services for vulnerable individuals, young people and families.

Through strategic investment in our social infrastructure, the BC government will improve outcomes for many at-risk children, youth and families and other vulnerable people. In these times of economic uncertainty progressive leaders will look to strengthen our support services and communities, create and maintain employment opportunities and recognize the important contributions of social service and community work to local economies.

The BCASW looks forward to continuing our working relationship with the BC government toward our common goals and a bright future where all of our citizens receive the support they require and where we can all benefit from optimizing the potential of all BC’s most important resources – our people.



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Contact Information:

Tracey Young, MSW, RSW

Chair ~ Child Welfare & Family Committee

BC Association of Social Workers

E-mail: tyoung@catalystbc.ca



Linda Korbin, MSW, RSW
Executive Director
BC ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS
402 - 1755 West Broadway
Vancouver BC V6J 4S5
T 604 730 9111/ F 604 730 9112
Toll free in BC 1 800 665 4747
www.bcasw.org

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