Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BC's Failing Child Welfare System: 11th Children & Families Minister in a Decade

What will Minister Cadieux Do for BC Kids in Care?

Katie Hyslop, TheTyee, Sept. 19, 2012. 


Just three years into her political career, BC Liberal Stephanie Cadieux took on her fourth cabinet portfolio earlier this month when Premier Clark appointed her to the controversial Children and Family Development portfolio. 

Cadieux told The Tyee she is "excited" to work in a ministry that affects so many children and families in the province.

By appointing a less-experienced minister to the portfolio, social workers fear the worst is yet to come from Premier Clark's government.

"Any inexperienced minister would be a concern, because it is an extremely important ministry," says Carol Ross, chair of the BC Association of Social Workers' Child and Family Welfare Committee.

"It's about the welfare of children, and the impact on families across the province can be huge. So I'm hoping (Cadieux) has the wisdom to rely on her skillful staff and not attempt to make radical changes to the whole database problem." 

MCFD in crisis: Young 

For Tracey Young, it doesn't matter who holds the minister's position in MCFD. The social work advocate who quit MCFD in 2009 and now works as a psychiatric social worker says the Liberal government have been running the department like a business for over a decade, and the problems in the ministry will continue until they change their ways.

"The continuing problems of MCFD are very much related to the last decade of employee cuts, hiring freezes and ever-present re-organization and changed processes which have detracted from the core activities of MCFD, most importantly, a focus on protecting at-risk children and youth," she told the Tyee via email.

Young says MCFD is in an almost constant state of crisis, and that the current ICM issues are predictable because the ministry failed to consult its own employees before introducing the new system. She doesn't foresee appointing a new minister as bringing any change, positive or negative, to the situation.

"(Minister Cadieux) is neither responsible for the state of MCFD, nor will she likely have much to do with the crisis B.C.'s child welfare system will continue to experience until they make real improvements," she says.

"Making real change and improvements in the child welfare system of care is going to require the will of the B.C. government and a much more strategic action and investment plan for recruitment, health and safety and retention of frontline workers."

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