Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who should you believe on children's safety?

About six weeks ago, I wrote a column about a Representative for Children and Youth audit of a child support program. It found children were being put at risk and called for an effort to make sure they were safe.
Children's Minister Mary Polak said no. I wondered what she was thinking, as the audit found more than 1,000 children could be at risk.
Polak, or the Public Affairs Bureau, wrote a letter to newspapers that ran the column.
"Based on an audit of the program, Mr. Willcocks feels it is appropriate that the ministry now knock on the door of every CIHR recipient and suggest that while we may not have a specific concern about the care you as an uncle, aunt or grandparent provide - we are going to examine your individual care-giving situation," she wrote. "That audit which involved more than 1,200 CIHR cases, turned up concerns in four instances which the Representative for Children and Youth reported to MCFD."
That's not actually what the column said, but it's a response.
But not an accurate one, according to a letter to the same newspapers from the Children's Representative.
"The minister's letter incorrectly states that my audit 'turned up concerns in four instances...' This statement misrepresents my audit findings, and seriously misinforms the public.
"In reality we found that in 28 per cent of files audited, serious issues of safety and evidence of risk were identified, including relating to either a prior ministry child welfare contact or a criminal record of concern. Based on 4,500 children, this could equate to more than 1,000 cases with evidence of risk. Conclusions in this rigorous audit are reliable at a 95 per cent confidence level, giving us a precise overview of the risk this group of children face.
"Most of the children in this program are safely supported by relatives, to whom we owe a deep debt of gratitude for their commitment and dedication to supporting a child in need, a child who might otherwise come into foster care."
But, the representative concluded, there is an "urgent need to go back and do the screening right" to ensure children are safe.

1 comment:

DPL said...

I would certainly believe Mary Ellen's position over Polak any day. Polak claims one thing one day and does a 180 degree change the next as she just did on the child testing for sexual issues after the BCCLA broke the story. The representative when she found out started an inquiry , then Polak shifted. Really tho, we all know the Deputy answers to Gordo not the minister so in reality it was he who changed the position.