“The people that created the problem are not the ones who are going to create the solutions.”
A Downtown Eastside youth advocate says the provincial government is leaving out the very people who can help fix a “broken system” when it comes to supporting at-risk youth in Vancouver’s most troubled neighborhood.
Scott Clark with the Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society says The Ministry of Children and Family Development is leaving out community and resident organizations in its promised “Rapid Response Team.”
He says it’s problematic because the agencies included are non-profit service providers who receive money from the government; therefore they can’t challenge the current system.
“The existing model is failing, and we are spending an awful lot of money, and the government keeps talking to the same people who are nothing more than an extension of themselves, the government, so they are accountable back to them, not the community, and that is what we are trying to change.”
It’s been nearly six months since the Children’s Ministry committed to the creation of a Rapid Response Team, in the wake of a scathing report into the tragic life of an Aboriginal teenager who died of an overdose on the DTES in 2013.
Her name was Paige.
The RCMP has since confirmed it’s investigating the actions of health workers for potential breaches of BC’s Child, Family and Community Services Act, which makes it an offence not to report a child in need of protection because of neglect or abuse.
The investigation was prompted by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report about 19-year-old Paige.
Turpel-Lafond said in the report released in May that Paige endured a “broken system” characterized by persistent indifference from front-line government workers.
A statement from the Ministry of Children and Family Development on the Rapid Response Team says:
“With respect to the RCY report recommendations, planning and coordinating took place over the summer and the ministry will be in a position to report out on the rapid response team and our efforts to meet the RCY’s recommendations, first to her office as required by protocol and then publicly as committed to, by the end of the month/early October.”
However, documents obtained by Clark, and shared with CKNW, show there has been three meetings so far.
Tier 1 (Directors) had their first meeting on July 14th , Tier 2 (Management) had their first meeting on August 6th, while Tier 3 (Direct Service Providers) met on September 10th.
Read the Aug 6. meeting minutes for the Rapid Response Team here: