Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Issue of Child Protection returns to Legislature debate

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
on the topic of child protection at
Tuesday's Question Period

While the focus of the rare summer session for the British Columbia Legislature is that of LNG, members of the NDP opposition are also returning to a number of concerns that made for much of the recent Spring session.

One concern is that of the need for better safeguards for protection of Children through the Ministry of Family Development, a topic that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice joined in on during the Tuesday morning Question Period.

The topic was introduced by Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, who was seeking further information from Minister Stephanie Cadieux as to the nature of any rapid response when it comes to vulnerable youth in the province.
The Legislature turned its
attention to Youth at Risk
during Tuesday's session

Ms. Rice, who has been engaged in the topic for a number of months now, also outlined her ongoing concern, particularly as they relate to the highly publicized case known as Paige's Story, which was the focus of a report from the Representative of Family and Youth.

As we outlined on the blog in May, the reaction to that report has once again turned the spotlight on the Government's approach to care for children who may be vulnerable or at risk in British Columbia.

Looking to learn more about the government response to that report, the North Coast MLA had a number of questions to address to Minister Cadieux as part of the morning session.

According to the children's representative, there are 150 cases of children at risk like Paige was at risk, yet the government has refused to work with the representative to ensure these children get help immediately, not months from now. As the representative said: "Leaving kids in danger for months and months is not a child protection response." So what is this minister waiting for? When will she get these children the help they need and deserve?

This is what the Representative for Children and Youth said about this government's timelines. "I don't know where the concept of time comes from in the Ministry of Children and Families, but it's not rapid to respond to something five months later." [1045] The B.C. Liberals know how to act quickly when it matters to them, so why is it taking so long for the B.C. Liberals to act to protect other children like Paige?

The Liberal cabinet Minister took issue with Ms. Rice's account of the Government's response to that report, noting that work is already underway when it comes to addressing the situations that were noted in the report.

Minister Stephanie Cadiuex outlined
the steps in place and those for the
future for child protection issues
This member, as well, is showing the lack of understanding of the work that is underway. In fact, our office met with the representative's office yesterday, the provincial director, to outline the work that is underway to this point, and that meeting was very successful. In fact, we are in ongoing conversations with the representative's office to ensure that we are, in fact, addressing all of the issues raised in the report.

The member is wrong. The response received by children or youth in the Downtown Eastside by our social work team is immediate. The work we are doing to develop a rapid response unit model is beyond the current service. It is a new addition to what we do. It is to expand upon the work we do with our partners. As I have outlined, the work and discussions on how that will work are underway, and we expect it will be implemented in the fall.

A look at how the issue left off at the end of the Spring session can be found here.

The return of the Legislature into a summer session, keeps the topic of care for vulnerable and at risk children on the provincial radar and part of the Legislature agenda, all of which is a positive thing for addressing the concerns.

While Minister Cadieux noted some of the background when it comes to emergency cases and how they are tackled as they arise.

Implementing something called a rapid response team on a timeline that won't see it in place until the fall, more or less highlights the lethargic nature of the system at the moment and points to where improvement is required.

You can review the exchange in the Legislature from the video link below:

For more items on events from the Legislature see our archive page here.

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