Monday, November 29, 2010

What Will it Take for Children & Youth to Matter in BC?

How much embarrassment is enough for the BC government? Headlines frequently bring attention to their incompetence in policy, planning and management of the people Ministries, arguably no more important than the Ministry of CHILDREN and Family Development.

We know that an entire generation of children in BC has lived in poverty and deprivation that has surpassed every other province in Canada for seven years in a row. Yet politicians report it's been dropping, like that makes it okay. They disregard and deflect from the realities of their failures and in the process, bring shame to themselves and the government.

How long are taxpayers supposed to sit by as the "leadership" of MCFD continually fails to meet it's most basic mandate and year after year, fails to meet it's own self-created Service plans & goals? There isn't any other BC government organization that has demonstrated such a level of abject failure of it's top most bureaucrats.

Failure in MCFD is failure of BC's most vulnerable and at-risk children & youth. It is the government's failure in the here and now and in the future, when many of this generation of deprived children grow up to be adults who encounter more difficulties being employable, more health, mental health and addiction problems, more individuals involved in the criminal justice system. These are the real world consequences of failure of government's social and public policy and failure to provide vulnerable children and families with the supports they require to rise above their circumstances.

It is time for the BC government to take responsibility for the last decade's failure to the children, youth and families of BC. It is time for new leadership and a time to listen to all of the voices who have been calling for real, evidence-based change, such as the Honourable Ted Hughes and the Representative for Children and Youth.


The 2010 Progress Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the BC Children and Youth Review:

Read the report here.


Representative Media Release:
Nov. 29, 2010

"Much has been promised and little delivered along the path of implementing the Hughes recommendations," she said. "The ministry has significant responsibilities to British Columbians and yet remains in a period of long and drawn-out change – what it calls ‘transformation’ -- that is incredibly ambitious and most certainly experimental."

Failing to provide frustrated front-line ministry staff, youth, their families and the oversight body with an understandable picture about the details of their transformation initiative and evidence that progress is being made on it is also unacceptable, said Turpel-Lafond.

She noted that major themes such as quality assurance, organizational learning, public accountability and decentralization also continue to be inadequately addressed, or are said to be restructured with a lack of clarity about what will eventually be measured or improved. Public reporting must be more consistent and detailed, she said, particularly in the area of critical injuries and deaths.

Read the entire news release here.


The story of a young girl with Down Syndrome

MLA Nicholas Simons. Nov. 29, 2010.

The Honourable Minister ignores the fact that her Child Protection Division is completely frustrated at the Ministry’s constant state of crisis, conflicting purposes, and misplaced priorities. Its workers are over-worked and suffering from low morale.

Bureaucrats are not allowed to say it, but the mess has been caused in part by a Deputy Minister who instead of making sure social workers can conduct proper investigations, and support or monitor borderline parenting, prefers to introduce new flowery initiatives: like “Child at the Centre”, “Safe, Strong and Supported”, and “Best Practice Action Plans” while spending millions of dollars on re-shuffling positions and re-drawing regions. It would be a farce were it not so tragic.

My advice to the Minister is to look at what your Deputy has done; take responsibility, and then consider your own options. Your government has done more harm to the Child Protection system, and to the circumstances of vulnerable children, than any previous one. Ministers before you have suffered from the same tendency; they didn’t address their problems because they didn’t admit they had one.


B.C. government fails to follow report to help children at risk
By Lindsay Kines, November 29, 2010

The Liberals appointed Hughes to review the child welfare system after the death of 19-month-old granddaughter, Sherry Charlie, in Port Alberni in 2002, and the bungled government investigation that followed. The little girl was beaten to death after being placed in the care of her great aunt under a kith-and-kin arrangement. The aunt's spouse, who had a history of violence, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 10-year prison sentence.

Hughes concluded that the B.C. Liberal government had weakened public oversight of the child welfare system at a time when the Children's Ministry faced severe budget cuts and an “unmanageable degree” of change.

“The disappointing reality is that far too many Hughes recommendations have never received the attention they deserve, and at this point likely never will,” she writes.


B.C. children's watchdog slams government
Nov. 29, 2010


Representative for Children and Youth's Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says the government has only fully implemented less than half the recommendations in the 2006 landmark report on the child welfare system by retired judge Ted Hughes.
Turpel-Lafond says she is deeply disappointed with the government's progress and is particularly critical of what she sees as a lack of accountability and oversight in the child welfare system.

"Difficult economics times can mean harsher realities for many of B.C.'s families. Poverty will deepen for some, unemployment rates will climb, and previously successful families may struggle. Social services may be required more often, and community supports may disappear. Stagnant or decreasing budgets will not be able to address the need of additional children and families," she said.

Learn more about Children's Rights through BC's Child Rights Public Awareness Campaign.

Join the growing network of individuals and groups who are fighting for recognition that BC's children & youth matter.

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