B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth has delivered a damning report on the state of Delegated Aboriginal Agencies’ handling of children in their care.
In the report, Bernard Richard says “the goal should be that DAAs are able to offer services that address the real needs of indigenous families in a culturally based way,” but says he has found “the federal funding models for DAAs are flawed, discriminatory, and leading to more children ending up in care.”
Richard goes on to say that “child welfare practice in DAAs is undermined by funding and staffing issues.”
He says the DAAs can’t pay caseworkers the same wages as their MCFD counterparts, but the MCFD is promising more cash.
“It seems like the ministry would like us to report on their good intention and I certainly want to be encouraged by this new funding, but we’ll have to wait and see how they’re actually expended.”
The Minister for Children and Family Development has made a pre-emptive statement saying the report does not tell the full story.
Stephanie Cadieux says the report “does not reflect many of the recent improvements and commitments the Province has made to help ensure better outcomes for indigenous children, youth and families,” citing $150-million over three years to address recommendations made in 2016 in Grand Chief Ed John’s report on child welfare.
Cadieux also says $14.4-million will be spent by 2018 to see DAAs funded at “equitable levels to the ministry.”
She says that money will help caseworkers dealing with indigenous children.
“Retention issues are a challenge and recruitment issues are a challenge. We share that, we share the complexity of work.”
Richard goes on to say that so many aspects of Alex Gervais’ story are found in this report.
But he says at $8,000 per month, spending wasn’t the problem.
It was him being not able to connect with his culture.
Richard also says recommendations he’s made have also been made in previous Children’s Representative reports, and says if they had been adhered to, Gervais would likely still be alive.
“I’m very confident… Children who have been victims of abuse are very resilient, if we give them half a chance they will survive and they will thrive, but if we abandon them as was the case for Alex we’ll see the kind of results that we saw there and sadly, heartbreakingly, we see virtually every week, every day in this office.”
Both the Children’s representative and the Minister are expected to answer questions Thursday afternoon.