A New Series: MCFD child protection is not working for children and families. The system is broken. The Bayne Family is currently the high profile display case that illustrates where and why the breakdowns repeatedly occur. An analysis may prescribe corrections.
EPISODE TWO: BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
109 child protection workers formerly employed by MCFD participated in a survey, the results of which are insightful if Ms. Dutoit and Ms. Polak want to improve system functions for families and employees.
The Child, Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA) is the cornerstone of B.C.'s child welfare program and it cites as its guiding principle “the best interests of the child.” Present MCFD child protection social workers may believe that they are empowered to act consistently in a child's best interests. On the other hand many may not. They may feel conflicted because they want to do more for a child or take different actions or even to speak out, but they cannot. That is what caused many of the survey respondents to say that they felt they had not been able to accomplish 'best interest' results for children. Many felt they gave inadequate service to children and/or families because of deficient resources, overwhelming case loads and burdensome clerical duties. CFCSA proposes a family-centred approach to child protection services that is supportive of parents and extended families and many respondents stated that they were unable to achieve that end result and did not have access to preventative and supportive service options before the disruptive removal of a child. This services shortage is due largely to the government’s budgetary cutback which impairs the child protection system from fulfilling its mandate to families. The government must re-evaluate priorities and bump up its financial commitment to children and youth so that parents and families no longer become casualties in a system that is failing to support families to keep their children safe in the home and to preserve their children's cultural and kinship connections.
Resource: Two informative study projects 'Hands Tied' and 'Broken Promises' produced by Pivot Legal Society of Vancouver, a non-profit legal advocacy organization. Pivot Legal Society, 678 Hastings St East, Vancouver, B.C. V6A 1R1 Canada, Tel. (+1) 604 255 9700 / www.pivotlegal.org