Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The facts say children at risk aren't being properly protected

VICTORIA - Child protection is the tough front line for social workers.
A teacher calls and reports a little girl is coming to school on snowy days with no coat. A neighbour reports that a toddler keeps showing up with new bruises. A teen is reported to be using drugs, or in the sex trade.
The ministry has to investigate to make sure the children are safe, and take action if they aren't. It can be risky to leave children in a home; it can be tragic to remove them and send them to live with strangers, or even family
members. There are few easy choices.
By its own standards, the ministry is failing. The ministry's standard says that child protection investigations are concluded "when all the information is gathered to determine whether a child needs protection, and what steps, if any,
are required to address the child's need for protection."
That work is supposed to be done in 30 days.
But the New Democrats released figures for October that showed that barely one in five child protection reports was being completed in the appropriate time.
Almost 45 per cent of cases were still open three months after the investigation started.
The ministry was dismissive, characterizing the issue as one of "paperwork." If there is any indication a child is at high risk the ministry acts immediately, said minister Stan Hagen. And anyway, staffers said, things were as bad under the NDP.
The last observation - supported with several years worth of statistics - is entirely irrelevant. The public doesn't care about politics, or which party has the worst record. They want to know if children are being protected.
Trivializing the problem as one of paperwork seems incredible. The standard, for starters, doesn't say anything about filing reports. It says child protection investigations are complete when the risk is assessed and needed
steps taken to ensure child safety. That's supposed to happen within 30 days, and it's not.
And the observation that the ministry moves quickly when it detects high risk isn't really reassuring. The policy calls for complete, thorough prompt investigations. The statistics suggest that is not happening, and that's bad
news for children.
It's not just the NDP that is raising the concern.
The BC Association of Social Workers says child protection workers are swamped. "The caseloads are unmanageable, there's no support and there are no resources for people." says association head Linda Korbin. Reports of neglect and abuse aren't being investigated because social workers don't have time.
And Susanne Dannenberg, a child protection worker in Victoria, resigned over the issue. It can take months before serious safety concerns are investigated, she said. Dannenberg said the fear that child would die because of something she had been unable to do had become too much.
It leaves you, as the people who have a responsibility to help these children, in a tough spot.
The ministry says everything is fine.
But the statistics and the workers say that is not true. That children are at risk every day because warnings aren't being investigated.
It is another reminder of how badly B.C. needs a Children's Commission.
This is exactly the kind of issue the commission investigated and reported on. The commission would audit a sample of child protection cases, assess the strengths and weaknesses in the ministry's response, and report. It would
follow up, to see if things improved.
If there was no cause for concern, the public would know.
If there were problems, the public could demand that it be fixed - before some tragedy like the death of Sherry Charlie prompted a flood of overlapping reviews and investigations.
British Columbians have lost something very important. We're no longer have the ability to be confident that we're fulfilling our responsibilities to the children who need us the most.
The Liberals say trust us. Everything is fine.
It is an answer they would have never have accepted in opposition. It's one we shouldn't accept now.
Footnote: Hagen accused the NDP of fear-mongering on the issue in a response later posted to a government web site. Premier Gordon Campbell is taking a different approach. Dix and the New Democrats raised issues that needed to be
fixed, he said, and the government will act on them.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stan is in over his head and everyone knows it. TO watch him in the house reading the same piece of paper over and over again spoke volumes. Kids files were stuck in storage. Nobody seems to know who authorized them being there. Stan is hoping against hope some clerk 2 can be held resonsible. A honorable person would step aside until Hughes gets everything sorted out. and he will .Now the Premier is doing damage control. How many days did he sit in the house and refuse to answer queations? Leaders are supposed to lead not pass the buck to some guy who appered not too aware of much of anything. we are fortunate to have a good opposition critic, some research folks and some media folks who do investigative reporting.

Anonymous said...

Stan is in over his head and everyone knows it. TO watch him in the house reading the same piece of paper over and over again spoke volumes. Kids files were stuck in storage. Nobody seems to know who authorized them being there. Stan is hoping against hope some clerk 2 can be held resonsible. A honorable person would step aside until Hughes gets everything sorted out. and he will .Now the Premier is doing damage control. How many days did he sit in the house and refuse to answer queations? Leaders are supposed to lead not pass the buck to some guy who appered not too aware of much of anything. we are fortunate to have a good opposition critic, some research folks and some media folks who do investigative reporting.

Dr John Crippen said...

Social workers can never win, can they? They get a bad time in the press in the UK... but who else will look after children in need?

Anonymous said...

It is easy to call for a return of the children's commission in the absence of anything else existing to apply critical review and make recommendations as well as statistically track and audit cases on an individual basis. The problem is the children's commission was a toothless dragon. It was riddled with imbalances of power, bureaucratic methodology, a lack of advocacy for families attempting to seek meaningful resolutions, and an arrogance that really made one wonder if Paul Pallen and his team remembered their own mandate and often they failed to utilize their own guidelines, and enforce action in politically hot situations. We need something in place of the children's commission, but we really do need to build a better mousetrap, not just keep putting the same tired ineffective resource back on the table as a solution because we desperately need one.

Canada Children First said...
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MELISSA REED said...

THIS IS WRITTEN IN HOPES SOMONE WILL HEAR MY CRIES:
I HAD BEEN HOME FOR FOUR DAYS AFTER GIVING BIRTH BY C-SECTION TO MY THIRD CHILD. TO MINE AND MY HUSBANDS SURPRISE WE WERE BLESSED WITH A BABY BOY, THIS BEING SO AS WE DECIDED I GET MY TUBES TIED. A KNOCK ON MY DOOR I FIND A SOCIAL WORKER SAYING SHE IS INVESTIGATING REPORTS MADE THAT I DONT SHOWER ENOUGH SO MY CHILDREN COULD BE IN A POSITION OF RISK.I LALOW HER TO COME IN MY HOME AND SHE SEES THE REPORT AS BEING LUDACRIS AND SAYS THAT HER NEEDS HAVE BEEN MET AND THE MATTER IS DEALT WITH. SHE HOWEVER ASKS FOR THREE REFERENCES TO CONTACT OF MY PARENTING SKILLS I GIVE THEM TO HER AND SHE LEAVES SAYING SHE HAS NO RESAON TO RETURN. THE NEXT WEEK ON MY BIRTHDAY AGAIN A KNOCK I FIND THE SAME SOCIAL WORKER I ASK WHAT SHE NEEDS AND SHE COMES IN SITS DOWN AND PROCEEDS TO TELL ME THAT ME AND MY BRAND NEW BABYBOY NEED TO GO DIRECTLY WITH HER AND HER PARTNER IN THERE CAR TO S.M.H. TO HAVE MY NOT EVEN TWO-WEEK OLD DRUG TESTED AND IF I DONT COMPLY SHE WILL REMOVE HIM IMMEDIATELY. I WAS DENIED THE RIGHT TO HAVE SOMEONE WITH ME AND HAD TO IMMEDIATELY FIND ANYONE TO WATCH MY DAUGHTERS WHILE FORCED TO BE A PART OF THIS RIDICULOUS ACT.AFTER AFTER EIGHT HOURS OF BEING HELD IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM TEST RESULTS PROVE MY BRESTFED SON IS DRUG FREE. SHE THEN QUESTIONS THE DOCTOR AS IF THE TEST MUST BE WRONG HE THEN PROCEEDS TO PROVE TO HER THATR THE DRUG RANITIDENE HAD BEEN ADMINISTERED TO MY SON UPON DELIVERY THERFORE FALSE POSITIVE SHOWED UP IN BLOOD TESTS AT BIRTH WHILE TRYING TO HELP IN REPAIRING A HOLE IN HIS LUNG WHEN HE WAS BORN.MY SON THEN HAVING HAD A BIT OF A ROUGH START IN TO THE WORLD WAS GAINING WEIGHT SLOWLY AND DUE TO MINE AND MY HUSBANDS CONCREN OF HIS HEALTH WE ADMITTED HIM TO HOSPITAL. WELL MY SON WAS BORN ON DECEMBER 29,2005 AND ON VALENTINES DAY OF THIS YEAR 2006 WHICH ALSO HAPPENED TO BE OUR 13TH ANNIVERSARY WE FIND HE IS STARING TO KEEP THE WIEGHT ON AND THEN WHILE HAVING A NAP WITH MY SON IN HOSPITAL I WAKE TO FIND THE SOCIAL WORKER BESIDE MY BED WITH MY SON BEING REMOVED. APPAREWNTLY I MUST HAVE BEEN NEGLECTING HIM AND AM UNCAPABLE OF PROPERLY CARING FOR HIM . HE WAS PLACED IN FOSTER CARE. ALTHOUGH MY DAUGHTERS WHICH AGED 3 AND 5 ARE STILL IN HOME WITH MY HUSBAND AND I. IT IS KNOW MARCH 14 ANDWE ARE ONLY ALLOWED SUPERVISED VISITS WHICH WE HAVE ONLY HAD THREE OF. NOONE HAS YET TO TELL US E REAL RESON FOR HIS REMOVAL OR WHAT MINISTRY HOOPS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE JUMPING THROUGH TO GET HIM HOME. WHER IS MY CHILDS BEST INTERST IN THAT?WHAT ABOUT KEEPING A FAMILY TOGETHER?THE AMOUNT OF EMOTIONAL TORTURE THE MINISTRY HAS FOR NO REASON IS PUTTING MY DAUGHTERS AND MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF THROUGH IS INEXCUSABLE YET LEGALLY HE HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED WHY? PLEASE SOMBODY HAS TO SEE THIS MALICOUS ATTACK ON MY FAMILY AND STEP IN AND SAVE US FROM THIS HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE.? PLEASE FOR THE CHILDRENS SAKE.

MELISSA REED said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

good story

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