Thursday, February 09, 2006

Children's ministry due for big changes

Here's a news story I did today. Quite an extraordinary development. It is hard to see the benefit of leaving the ministry without a deputy minister through a very challenging time.
And it is hard to accept the repeated claims that all is well when the premier's office reaches to South Africa for help.
Du Toit comes with a great reputation. It's a good bet that her stay will be much longer than three months.
It's also a good bet that the children and families ministry will get much more money in this month's budget.

B.C.'s embattled children and families' ministry has replaced its
top bureaucrat and turned to a South African child care expert for help.
The ministry has struggled with a string of problems, including a massive
restructuring that is years behind schedule and a controversy over its handling
of child deaths, including the high profile case of Sherry Charlie.
Jessica McDonald, deputy minister to the premier, said the decision to move
Alison MacPhail from the ministry's top job was unrelated to the controversies.
MacPhail, who is moving to a new position in the attorney general's ministry,
was interested in a change sometime in the next year, McDonald said. "I think
we have made the best decision in making the change now," she said.
The departure leaves the ministry without a deputy minister as it prepares to
deal with a string of potentially damaging reports, including reviews by Child
and Youth Officer Jane Morley and Ted Hughes. Associate deputy minister Arn van
Iersel will be acting deputy.
McDonald said she wanted to see the results of Hughes' review of the ministry's
operations before hiring a new deputy minister. "I'm not going to prejudge the
information that will come in from Mr. Hughes," she said.
Hughes first report is due Feb. 28.
McDonald said the premier's office has hired Lesley du Toit of South Africa on
a three-month contract to advise on child and youth services.
Du Toit will focus on the ministry's attempt to move to new regional
authorities, including five new aboriginal authorities.
She will also help the government respond to the Hughes inquiry recommendations
when they are released.
Du Toit is executive director of the Child and Youth Care Agency for
Development in Pretoria. She's best known for being tapped in 1995 by Nelson
Mandela to help develop child care and protection systems in South Africa.
"She has an outstanding international reputation," McDonald said.
Du Toit has also been working since 2002 on a number of initiatives in B.C.,
including a government-funded international advisory panel for the children and
families' ministry.
The three-month contract will see her paid $60,000, to include salary and
McDonald said the contract could be extended.
Suzanne Williams of the Institute for Child and Rights Development said Du
Toit, who has worked with the institute on several projects, is a great choice.
"Anyone would be very lucky to have Lesley," she said.


wstander said...

Three month contract for $20,000. including expenses. Let's see 12/3 equals 4. 4 times 20 equals 80. $80,000 a year. Well, world class experts certainly come a lot cheaper than BC experts, eh, ) see Lee Doney, Vince Collins, Jane Morley, etc. etc, etc

Anonymous said...

I wonder...

If - given Lesley Du Toit's background developing/running child/youth care/protection systems - this means Rick Moles' Community Living BC is running like clockwork?

ps: Q - Is it Lesley or Leslie?
PW spells it both ways in this blog.

paul said...

Sorry, dumb error.
It's Lesley.

Anonymous said...

I will be interested to see if an outside authority brings with her integrity to stand on her own assessments, to review materials without the bias or burden of a preconceived ministry outcomes. If for example, five new aboriginal authorities will be additions to existing models, or if the aboriginal strategy will include a logical step back to consider the need to assess and evaluate existing programs and build structures for new agencies to include as guarantees. If the legal responsibility for the Director of Child Protection to delegate rather than abdicate the responsibility to ultimately secure the safety of children regardless of ancestry will include at minimum the sorry standards attached through the child and family community services act, the rights of the child, the practice and standards in terms of hiring, assessing risk, developing plans of care, assuring an environment focused on the best interests of the child unfettered by undue influence of chief and counsel, or if aboriginal authority means simply community run, community standards. Hope runs thin each time a new solution steps up to the plate, the dust of the old unsettled.

Dawn Steele said...

Anon, I don't think anyone should assume that Rick Mowles' Community Living BC is running like clockwork -- quite the contrary.

Ms. du Toit and whoever else gets the job of restructuring children's services should take a good close look at CLBC before concluding that a similar "regionalization" model is going to do anything but shuffle around and worsen the problems in child protection.

Kali Advocacy Project said...

The fact that Ms. du Toit has been involved in government, advocacy & policy work in BC since 2002, she better get that the Liberal version of community governance, or the new spin, regionalization, does not improve services to the public. In fact, the Liberal regime of government has helped destroy some generations of people already and more to come. If community governance were being done from a foundation of ethical, best practices in a climate of respect and dignity for the public in need of child welfare services and for those who provide them, this whole scheme would be a different kettle of fish. It is purely an exercise in the neo-conservative agenda of finances over human life and rights.

And truthfully, government, via its child welfare services and rights of protection for Aboriginal children has already been providing a multi-tiered system. For further reading on this, go to the new submission authored by Kelly McDonald on behalf of Justice for Girls. The full title is
Justice System's Response: Violence against Aboriginal Girls.

Anonymous said...

wstander has the math wrong. The three month contract is for $60,000 according to the original article, which means that she will be paid $20,000 PER MONTH!! Doing the math means that this would be an annual salary of $240,000.