Wednesday, May 12, 2010
MCFD Staff Shortage / Part 188 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
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 THREE: MCFD STAFF SHORTAGE IMPLICATIONS
Families matter. That's the primary reason I mention child protection staff shortages. Of course the shortages have implications for MCFD administrators and for social workers, and that matters. However, it is how these shortages impact the families already involved with MCFD and others inevitably to be entangled with MCFD that truly matters to me.
There are over 9,000 B.C. children living in the care of the Ministry. More than fifty percent of these are Aboriginal. Consider the potential for hundreds of families to receive inadequate service by an understaffed, under resourced MCFD.
An independent review of the B.C. child protection system was published in 2006 under the title 'The B.C. Children and Youth Review (The Hughes Report). It bears the name of his author, Justice Ted Hughes. Shortage of child protection staff had several implications for Hughes. It is not easy to fill the positions left by departing social workers. Child protection social work is not everyone's dream portfolio. Hughes called it the most difficult government job. In speaking to the skill set required for child protection work, the Hughes report mentioned formal training, toughness, warmth, intelligence, compassion, decisiveness and determination are requisite. That's an interesting but plausible list and it strikes me that if social workers are hired who lack half of those protection skills, the service provided will be inferior.
One of MCFD's responses to the Hughes Report was the addition of 180 positions in child protection and mental health services but that was negated by a provincial budget projection in February 2009 calling for a decrease of 185 jobs. Social workers have their own concerns with staff turnovers but so do the parents whose children are in the MCFD system. Parents have at times had to work with an array of social workers and this discontinuity is not merely frustrating to parents but discouraging because relationships, service, understanding, history and data gathering are interrupted.
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