Child and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux admits more needs to be done to improve care and planning for youth in government care.
The BC government unveiled its latest report on Monday with four recommendations.
Cadieux says they will take a more proactive approach if a child in government care is in an unstable situation.
“Over the coming months, we will enhance our computer system to automatically alert the provincial director of child welfare if a child or youth is bouncing from foster to foster home or group home to group home. That should not be happening except for the rarest of circumstances.”
The report examined the tragic life and death of Alex Gervais who took his life after being left alone in an Abbotsford hotel by contractors.
According to the report, Alex spent 11 years in government care, had 17 placements, and 23 different social workers and caregivers.
During his time in his final placement before the hotel, he was sexually assaulted twice, once by a contractor who plied him with narcotics.
It is now mandatory to have a care plan for all youth taken care of by the province.
Cadieux would further expand on that point. “It is my expectation, that is part of a social worker’s job and we’ve added 200 more staff and made workload changes to ensure they have time to do those plans and keep them up to date.”
$2.7 million dollars to develop culturally specific plans for indigenous children was made public.
Over 7,100 children and youth are in government care at any time and as of December 31, 2016, 699 children and youth were placed in 93 contracted residential agencies.
Welfare background and criminal record checks to residential care givers will now be done in-house.
The process was in need of a major overhaul according to Cadieux.
“These will no longer be done by contracted agents, a lack of documentation and follow-up stops now. The accountability has got to rest with the ministry just as parents are responsible for choosing who they let take care of their children.”
Cadieux says face to face and home visits with the 700 kids placed in the care of a contracted agency will take place to ensure living conditions and quality of care are met.
The four recommendation’s are as follows
1) Connecting kids with extended family
2) Ensuring plans of care are complete and up-to-date for each child in youth and government care.
3) Making child and youth mental health services more available and accessible.
4) Strengthing quality assistance, oversight, and accountability for all contracted residential agencies.