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NEWS RELEASE · 22nd January 2011
Nearly five years after Judge Ted Hughes issued his report into B.C.’s child protection system, the Ministry of Children and Families’ own reviews point to “systemic” failures that played a role in the deaths of several children over the past three years.

“The B.C. Liberals have shown that they aren’t interested in protecting this province’s most vulnerable kids. The cuts to budgets and services have been too deep, there is confusion throughout the ministry about a vague new framework that no one understands, and we have a minister who just doesn’t seem to understand the impacts all of it has had on children,” said New Democrat children and families critic Maurine Karagianis.

“The minister has been in the media deflecting the truth about the ongoing problems, saying it is about recruitment, not budget. The fact is, the ministry is chronically underfunded, and that has led to the inability to recruit and retain social workers.”

Twelve case reviews were posted to the government website in compliance with the recommendations made by Hughes intended to bring about improvements in policy, practice and public accountability.

But Karagianis pointed out that in November the independent children’s representative reported that half of the recommendations made by Hughes in 2006 were still incomplete, including several regarding case reviews.

The representative stressed the importance Hughes put on improving child death reviews, but went on to say the changes implemented by the ministry are “inadequate in meeting the intent of the Hughes Review in the key areas of continuous system-wide improvement, public accountability, and clarity and consistency.”

One of the child death reviews says “systemic barriers such as competing caseload demands, staff inexperience, and availability of supervisory consultation impacted service quality.”

“I am so disheartened to see these results. It is truly disappointing that we continue to see such dismal failures embedded in the ministry,” said Karagianis.

Karagianis also noted that nine of the 12 reviews involved Aboriginal children, and she expressed concerns that the ministry appears poised to make sweeping changes to how it functions in Aboriginal communities.

“I have deep concerns about what the ministry is up to with regard to Aboriginal kids. We’ve seen an acute failure already, and it looks like the ministry wants to hand off responsibility to communities and reduce direct oversight.”

B.C.’s New Democrats are advocating for compassionate and pragmatic solutions to address our social, economic and environmental challenges, including a comprehensive and targeted poverty reduction strategy.