Government must put funds into child protection services

May 7, 2008

A growing cascade of independent reports on child protection show BC's government is failing vulnerable children, says BCGEU President George Heyman.

In mid-April, BC's Representative for Children and Youth issued the results of her investigation into the deaths of four children in care in BC.

The Auditors General of Canada and British Columbia yesterday released reports criticizing the management of child welfare services, including protection, for Aboriginal and First Nations children and families.

"The reports underscore that the BC government has neither a plan to estimate the resources required to adequately protect children, particularly Aboriginal children, nor has it established the means to assess outcomes of its current programs," says Heyman.

The auditors general expressed concern that of all BC children who are in care, 51 per cent are Aboriginal - yet Aboriginal people represent only about 8 per cent of BC's population.

They also observe, "Neither the federal nor the BC government knows enough about the outcomes. What happens to these children who receive child welfare services? Are they better off? ... More and better information on outcomes is critical..."

Heyman adds, "Services are fractured and disconnected for families on and off-reserve. Communication within the ministries responsible must be improved. And considering the continuing high attrition rate of social workers, the Ministry of Children and Families is still not putting enough social workers needed on the frontlines."

Heyman notes that despite the BC Representative for Children and Youth's recent recommendation that BC government consult with stakeholders such as the BCGEU - it has yet to respond to our union's frequently-made offer to work together to address systemic problems in child protection.

For the full provincial report see: www.bcauditor.com

For pdf click here