Today, Judge Crabtree rules on Paul and Zabeth Bayne's application for unsupervised access privileges.
Yesterday, I introduced Leah Flagg's online petition. Here is the letter to which you will sign your name.
OPEN PETITION LETTER.To Premier Campbell, Ministry Mary Polak
The present structure of Ministry of Child and Family Development and its mandate is lacking in accountability to client families and the public in general. It allows for mismanagement of scarce resources and abuse of authority.
The following is a petition to reform specific aspects of the programs and services provided by MCFD.
The authority to remove children from their parents is a necessary evil in the task of protecting vulnerable children. However, when mistakes are made or its authority misused, the MCFD uses its power and bureaucratic process to protect its social workers rather than the interests of the children and families it exists to provide care for.
The current MCFD complaints process is biased. It does not allow client families an adequate means of ensuring their social workers hold to the appropriate standards of their profession nor to the MCFD Mandate and Service Regulations.
Because the complaints process fails to render satisfactorily impartial resolution of clients’ concerns, it must be regulated by an outside organization that does not have a stake in the outcome. To completely assure a measure of accountability, it must be compulsory for all active social workers to register with B.C. College of Social Workers.
DELIVERY OF SERVICES
Overwhelmingly, service delivery focuses on child protection and not enough on support and prevention. The framework for a supportive and preventative approach to service delivery exists but it is not satisfactorily implemented.
Expensive foster home resources must be reserved for the children who need that level of care, but these resources are persistently being utilized for children who would be better served with support services in their own homes. Social workers consistently opt for removal and out-of-home foster placement when preventative/support services would more efficiently help families achieve their goals.
The formula for allocating funding must be based on the number and type of services required by families, as opposed to the number of children who are held in the custody and guardianship of the MCFD. Utilizing such a formula could help deter social workers from unnecessarily removing children from their parents.
TRAINING INITIATIVES & RECRUITMENT
Inadequate numbers of qualified support workers contributes to the extensive wait lists for services and drastically weakens the capacity to implement programs for vulnerable children and youth. There must be funding allocated specifically for recruiting and training support workers in the field of community, residential and in-home support services to children and youth.
YOUTH TRANSITION TO INDEPENDENT LIVING
Currently, when a youth turns nineteen the MCFD does little to ensure a safe and healthy transition toward independent living, even when the youth is known to not have the ability to function independently. This is unacceptable. The MCFD must follow the youth into adulthood and support them as a parent would.
Transitional support services must be provided based on individual capacity for adaptive functioning rather than an arbitrary IQ or age criteria. These two criteria alone disqualify the vast majority of vulnerable youth for support services.
It is not enough for social workers to simply refer youth to a name and phone number of community organizations and expect them to obtain services. It must be the social worker’s responsibility to ensure the youth has suitable housing and support services in place before the youth turns nineteen.
Where the youth’s family is willing and capable of assisting the youth through transition, they must be encouraged and supported in doing so with appropriate in-home/community support services provided by MCFD.
Failing to be accountable and support our children and youth is inconsistent with the values I hold as a British Columbian. On behalf of BC’s vulnerable children and youth, I am making it my responsibility as a citizen to speak out against this government’s failure to provide for their best interests.
Premier Campbell and Minister Polak; you have a duty to protect and support BC’s children and youth in our communities. Please act immediately to reform our broken system of services for these, some of our most vulnerable citizens.