Saturday, August 8, 2009

Housing First for BC’s Impoverished Children and Families

Housing First for BC’s Impoverished Children and Families
BC Association of Social Workers

“A ‘place of your own’ is crucial to every family feeling protected and secure, and provides shelter, safety, privacy, an identity and a place to care for each other.”

Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children & Youth
The Representative’s latest report highlights the pressures that marginalized and vulnerable families face in their struggle to find affordable housing to care for their children. She states, “whenever the government or its agents step into the lives of families, they must do so for the right reasons and with the right tools.”

This report details
the traumatic removal of an infant from his young parents, his placement into multiple foster homes within a short span of time and reports on the tragic consequences of a multi-directional systemic meltdown and a lack of supports, resources and anti-poverty measures that would have supported the child to remain where he belonged - with his family as a healthy, nurtured and valued member of his community.

The BCASW supports the Representative’s key findings and recommendations and urges MCFD to move quickly towards action and implementation.

A reactive, crisis-driven child welfare and social service system that defaults to removing children from vulnerable families rather than working together to find creative solutions to poverty, social exclusion and marginalization creates more problems, tragedy and poorer outcomes.

Investment in human and social infrastructure and capital is the most enlightened way forward at this precarious time in BC’s child welfare and social service systems. Children in the care of MCFD have a right to be treated with the highest duty of care that a society can offer its most vulnerable and fragile citizens. The government of British Columbia must improve its commitment to the safety, protection and enhancement of the lives of all of BC’s children. Their lives and well-being depend on it.


Tracey Young, MSW, RSW
Chair ~ Child Welfare & Family Committee
BC Association of Social Workers



Housing, Help and Hope: A Better Path for Struggling Families.

Representative for Children and Youth

A struggling young family needed short-term housing assistance so their baby could be safe, but instead the child was taken into government care. A Representative for Children and Youth investigation into a First Nations baby’s critical injury finds that many of the systemic factors that played a major role in the infant’s removal from his parents still exist today.

Three Part Series by Paul Willcocks
Victoria Times Colonist & Paying Attention:

A little boy, failed by the system and forgotten by the rest of us

August 3rd 2009

The representative for Children and Youth set out his story — how he went from a healthy baby boy to a three-year-old who had suffered devastating injuries that left him with cerebral palsy. He’s blind in one eye, can’t walk yet and faces a life of struggle.

It’s worth pausing to think about this. The baby was barely five months old and had been with his parents and in three different foster homes. All good intentions aside, as a parent or grandparent, how do you think a child you loved would handle those changes? How long would he cry for a missing blanket or a person he had come to associate with comfort?

A child taken away because his parents were poor

August 4th, 2009

The result, the representative found, is that children are taken from their parents because they are poor. "This places the basic human rights of children in jeopardy and tears families apart in tragic way, especially aboriginal families trying to recover and rebuild," the report found.

System just wasn't set up to help this baby

This is not an isolated case, the report suggests. It notes two ministry internal audits found 50 to 84 per cent compliance with its standards in the region where the boy lived while in care. The B.C. Association of Social Workers - representing frontline workers - said the report documents "the tragic consequences of a multi-directional systemic meltdown and a lack of supports, resources and anti-poverty measures."

And considering that this baby was taken from his parents and sent through a series of foster homes because his family was poor, it's notable that B.C. has had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for the past six years. This baby boy's rough life, sadly, wasn't an aberration.

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