Executive Summary

Report of the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection in British Columbia

Volume Two: MATTHEW'S LEGACY


RECOMMENDATIONS

Delivery of Child Protection Services

HOW THE MINISTRY PROTECTS CHILDREN

Philosophy and Models

1. The family group conference should not be used for children who are in need of protection.

2. In other cases, the family group conference should be used only when:

a. there is an experienced, trained and competent conference coordinator, and

b. the child has an advocate who represents only that child's interests.


The Duty to Report

3. Professionals and the general public should be educated about their duty to make a report to the ministry if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a child is in need of protection.

4. The ministry should engage in an educational program to tell professionals who provide services to children the circumstances under which a report of child protection should be made.

5. The Inter-Ministry Child Abuse Handbook should be revised and updated. This should include the careful revision of all protocols related to child protection.


Intake

6. The ministry should set up a task force to design and implement a computerized child protection information management system which will:

a. allow social workers to record case information, retrieve information, track cases and access information quickly and easily, and

b. reduce and simplify the number of documents social workers are required to fill out in the course of a protection investigation and assessment.

7. The ministry should abandon the check list Intake form and instead require intake social workers to make professional judgments about the investigations and assessments they complete, which should be summarized on a computerized information system.

8. All reports of new incidents of child abuse or neglect should be investigated, regardless of:

a. the credibility of the reporter, and

b. whether there have been previous investigations of similar incidents.


The Investigation

9. Child protection investigations should be done by qualified and experienced social workers who have been specifically trained in investigation and risk assessment.

10. When conducting investigations and doing risk assessments, social workers should do complete collateral checks and comprehensive social histories of the child and family.

11. Social workers should develop service plans on the basis of the assessed needs of children and their families.

12. Assessment criteria should define:

13. Assessment procedures and protocols should be clearly defined and enforced by the ministry so that the child's safety and well-being are paramount in case planning.

14. All child care professionals and foster parents who make reports that children are in need of protection should be fully informed of the outcome of the investigation.


Risk Assessment

15. Child protection social workers must complete a comprehensive risk assessment when investigating a child protection report. The risk assessment should include corroboration from collaterals of explanations for injuries or neglect which the parent may give about the child. The assessment should not give "strengths" of the parent disproportionate weight.


Case Planning

16. All case planning should be child-centred and should be informed by ongoing professional assessment of the family's functioning in regard to the child's safety or well-being.

17. Social workers who are responsible for case planning must ensure that services are delivered and that service goals are attained.

18. Contract service providers (including foster parents) and child care professionals, such as teachers and physicians, who provide services to a child at risk should be fully informed of the child's background and present circumstances so that they can appropriately meet the child's needs.


File Transfer

19. All district offices and all social workers should follow the ministry file transfer policy.


Coordination

20. The ministry should specify in its contracts with service providers the criteria to be used to measure outcomes, in order to determine the effectiveness of a case plan.

21. Social workers should actively monitor and evaluate case plans with service providers.


Apprehension

22. A social worker who considers that a child is in need of protection should apprehend and remove the child from an abusive or neglectful environment, and should not try to "second guess" what a judge will do once the case comes to court.


Sources of Failure

23. In addition to having social worker qualifications and training, supervisors should have specialized training on how to supervise.

24. The Guaranteed Available Income for Need Act and Regulations should be amended to give child protection social workers access to all information from the GAIN program necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of a child.

25. Ministry social workers should receive training on the use of confidential information in child protection practice.

26. All social work decisions and plans that are required to be countersigned by a supervisor should in fact be signed by a duly trained supervisor.

27. The ministry's policy should state clearly that the protection of the child is paramount, and should not be overshadowed by a desire to help parents improve their lives and abilities.

28. Supervisors must have adequate time to provide social workers with supervision.


QUALITY ASSURANCE

Practice audits

29. The ministry should systematically audit the manner in which child welfare services are delivered, to ensure that provincial standards are being met or surpassed. Each district office's case files should be audited according to a predetermined audit cycle on a random basis.

30. The ministry's practice audit process should include assessment of the exercise of professional judgment.

31. The ministry's practice audit process should be completely separate from the system that delivers and manages the child welfare program, to ensure independence and objectivity.

32. Practice audits should be conducted, and reports should be prepared, in a manner that will lead to constructive improvements in the delivery of child welfare services. When the ministry receives practice audit findings, it must take action to improve service delivery and to reform provincial practice standards, qualifications, training and service design.


Clinical supervision

33. Clinical supervision needs to be an integral part of the delivery of child welfare services. For this to happen, supervisors need to:

a. be professionally qualified,

b. receive training in clinical supervision skills, and

c. be rewarded for making clinical supervision and mentorship a key part of their daily activities.


Annual Performance Assessments

34. Annual performance assessments need to be an integral part of the delivery of child welfare services. For this to happen:

a. supervisors need to receive training in conducting annual performance assessments,

b. supervisors and social workers need clearly articulated expectations about what will be assessed, what criteria will be used, and what professional development opportunities will flow from the assessment process, and

c. the annual review of a supervisor's own performance needs to include an examination of how conscientiously the supervisor has conducted annual performance assessments of social workers.


Provincial Licensure of Child Welfare Resources

35. Provincial licensure of child welfare resources should become an integral part of the child welfare system, and licensure needs to extend to all child welfare resources.


Provincial Child Advocate

36. The role of the Advocate established under the Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act needs to be strengthened by:

a. ensuring that the Act states unequivocally that the role of the Advocate is to advocate on behalf of children and youth, and to advocate on behalf of their families only when such advocacy is consistent with and promotes the interests of that family's children,

b. declaring publicly that the Advocate's mandate encompasses all child-related services provided or funded by the province. This could be accomplished by adding a schedule to the Act setting out the "designated Act" and "designated services" that will, over time, be brought within the Advocate's mandate, and

c. amending the Act to give the Advocate explicit authority to appoint legal counsel to represent children and youth individually or collectively, in appropriate circumstances.


Review of Continuing-Care Orders

37. Every district office should examine at least annually the case plan for every child who is the subject of a continuing-care order, to prevent "foster home drift."

38. An independent provincial review authority (the Children's Commissioner) should automatically review every continuing-care order every 12 months. If the Children's Commissioner concludes, after consultation with a district office, that the continuing-care order should be cancelled or varied, the commissioner should refer the case to the Provincial Court.


Complaints

39. Children, parents and caregivers who are affected by administrative decisions about child welfare service delivery:

a. need consistent, accessible complaints procedures and recognized bodies to review those decisions, and

b. need to be informed of their right to a review of the process involved and of their right to advocacy.

40. Children who are affected by administrative decisions need easy access to independent advocacy, especially when their interests and the interests of their parents or other caregivers differ.

41. Each district office should establish a fair process for receiving, investigating and responding to complaints about the delivery of child welfare services.

42. Children, parents and other caregivers who are not satisfied with a district office's review of an administrative decision should have realistic access to an independent complaints investigator, who would have a mandate to resolve disputes without recourse to the Child Welfare Review Board.

43. The province should transform the proposed Child and Family Review Board into a Child Welfare Review Board, with a mandate to review:

a. the apparent breach of a child-in-care's statutory rights under s.70 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act, and

b. any other important administrative child welfare decision respecting entitlement to service or quality of service.


Professional Regulation of Social Workers

44. The province should assign primary responsibility for the professional integrity of social workers to the profession's regulatory body.

45. Social workers should be regulated by a self-governing professional body, the directors of which should include approximately one-third lay members.

46. The professional body should:

a. have a legislative mandate,

b. be given authority over all social workers,

c. have the authority to set professionally determined qualifications that are a prerequisite to entry into the profession, which may include requirements for recruit training and probationary practice,

d. reserve, for those who have these professionally determined qualifications, the title "social worker," which describes their profession, and the professional body must have the power to define a scope of practice and to permit only those who are qualified to engage in that practice,

e. have the authority to set standards of practice that will enhance the quality of practice and reduce incompetent, impaired or unethical practice,

f. have the authority to receive and investigate complaints, and

g. be empowered to adjudicate allegations of unethical or incompetent practice, and to take remedial or disciplinary action to protect the public and the profession's reputation.

47. To achieve recommendations 44 to 46, the province should broaden the mandate of the Health Professions Council to include social services, permitting the creation of a professional college for social workers.


Professional Regulation of other Child Welfare Service Providers

48. Other child welfare service providers who are currently unregulated or inadequately regulated should be brought under a regulatory framework similar to that recommended for social workers.


DEATH AND INJURY REVIEWS

Children's Commissioner

49. The province should establish, by legislation, the office of an independent Children's Commissioner who would be appointed by Order in Council for a fixed term.

50. The Children's Commissioner should have responsibility for:

a. ensuring that each district office establishes a fair process for receiving, investigating and responding to complaints about the delivery of child welfare services,

b. appointing independent complaints investigators,

c. reviewing annually every continuing-care order to ensure that children do not "drift" through the child welfare system, and

d. reviewing children's deaths and serious injuries in accordance with recommendations 51 to 54, below.


Review of Child Deaths and Serious Injuries

51. The Children's Commissioner should be given responsibility for receiving reports of deaths and serious injuries of all children and youth who are in the care of the province or who are receiving child welfare services. The Commissioner should:

a. in the case of any death or serious injury which the Children's Commissioner determines to be suspicious or unusual, refer the case to a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia for whatever form of investigation the judge considers necessary, and

b. in every other case, decide what form of review or investigation is appropriate, assign the case and monitor the review or investigation. The Children's Commissioner should have the authority, at any time, to re-assign a review or investigation.

52. Death and serious injury reviews should proceed promptly and should be coordinated with other investigations or proceedings. They should not be prematurely terminated, and should not be postponed except for good reason. Review reports may be supplemented by qualified individuals, but not altered by anyone other than the author.

53. The Children's Commissioner should monitor adoption of recommendations contained in a death or serious injury review report, and should comment publicly if the child welfare system does not respond adequately to a death or serious injury review.

54. The provincial ministry responsible for child welfare must ensure that findings from death and injury reviews lead to improved service delivery, and that patterns and trends identified from reviews and other epidemiological sources lead to reforms in provincial practice standards, qualifications, training and service design.


QUALIFICATIONS

Child Protection Social Workers

55. Ministry social workers who provide direct services to children and their families should, at a minimum, be required to have a Bachelor of Social Work degree as a basic qualification. A Master of Social Work degree should continue to be preferred.

56. In order to move to the Bachelor of Social Work qualification as a standard, the ministry, in consultation with schools of social work, unions and the Ministry of Skills, Labour and Training, should:

a. require all future candidates for social work positions to have, at a minimum, a Bachelor of Social Work degree,

b. provide strong incentives for existing workers to obtain BSWs through reasonable access to a concentrated conversion program for those with a Bachelor of Arts degree,

c. promote access, through distance education, to Bachelor of Social Work programs in remote communities,

d. provide the opportunity for part-time study to achieve a Bachelor of Social Work degree,

e. review the qualification upgrade incentives available to school teachers with a view to implementing a similar program for child welfare social workers, and

f. provide professional development opportunities for experienced and senior social workers to acquire the needed qualifications.

57. The schools of social work, in consultation with the ministry, should review social work curricula to ensure that there is adequate attention given to children's issues in general, and to child welfare in particular, including:

a. developing more core courses in child development and child welfare and a greater emphasis in electives on emerging issues of importance to children, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, children's rights and child advocacy,

b. counselling students to take optional child welfare practice and policy courses and guiding them to field placements in child welfare settings,

c. promoting access to distance education for child welfare workers in remote communities, including aboriginal people, and

d. advancing training opportunities for district supervisors in clinical and administrative supervision in child welfare through MSW and management programs.


Child Welfare Contract Service Providers

58. The ministry, in consultation with the Federation of Child and Family Services of British Columbia, other child-serving ministries and relevant education and training institutions, should define province-wide standards governing the qualifications of child welfare contract service professions. This initiative should include defining common language to classify discrete groups of contract workers -- for example, "special service workers," "family support workers," "street youth workers" and "re-connect workers" should all be classified as "child and youth care workers" with defined entry-level qualifications.


TRAINING

Ministry Social Workers

59. The ministry should fast-track the development of a comprehensive, 20-week new employee Training Program for child protection social workers, including Family and Children's Services and SPMH social workers who work with children. The program should

a. be based on already defined competencies and information from the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities analysis of social worker jobs,

b. provide 15 weeks of classroom-based central training and five weeks of supervised field placements,

c. provide for supervised field placements in designated regional teaching offices, staffed by supervisors and senior social workers who are trained as trainers and who operate with reduced caseloads during trainee placement periods,

d. define social worker training needs in a child-centred manner related to client expectations, children's service needs, provincial standards, research findings and knowledge of community resources,

e. include communities, particularly youth in or from the child protection system, in the design and delivery of training,

f. provide training staff with adequate time and resources to evaluate, redesign and update the training program,

g. test candidates, focusing on core child protection skills and knowledge including: risk assessment, case management, interviewing children and parents, use of information systems, library research and knowledge of community resources,

h. certify entry-level competence before a social worker begins work with children and families,

i. provide a fair appeal process and a remedial program for candidates who fail any of the competency and knowledge tests,

j. conduct probationary employment in accordance with job standards, testing and appraisal from supervisors based on the same competencies learned in new employee training,

k. offer ways to eliminate financial and other barriers for candidates from disadvantaged groups,

l. customize a version of the 20-week program for SPMH social workers, based on an improved list of competencies for those workers, and

m. provide financial assistance workers with at least two weeks of the same training modules on the recognition of child abuse and neglect that are provided to social workers and test this on completion of training and during probationary employment.


Contract Child Welfare Workers

60. The ministry, in consultation with other ministries, the child welfare contract sector (including employers, unions, professional regulatory bodies) and relevant education/training institutions, should review current contract practices and define province-wide standards governing the qualifications and training required for child welfare workers. At a minimum, this should include:

a. ensuring that all contracts specify the qualifications and training required by child welfare workers to perform effectively the work required,

b. encouraging self-regulation, by amending the Health Professions Act to include child welfare workers,

c. providing reasonable access to education upgrading and advanced training opportunities for supervisors and senior practitioners in the contract child welfare sector, and

d. providing increased access to interdisciplinary training programs relevant to child protection provided to public sector workers.


Medical and Other Health Care Professions

61. The ministry should work with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the University of British Columbia Medical School, the British Columbia Medical Association, British Columbia's Children's Hospital and other teaching hospitals in British Columbia to ensure that members of the medical profession are appropriately trained in the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and in how to work as part of an interdisciplinary team with other service providers. At a minimum, the goals of this work should include:

a. reviewing and enhancing core medical school curricula to ensure that all graduating physicians are competent and knowledgeable in the diagnosis, assessment, referral and followup required for all forms of child abuse and neglect,

b. requiring, as a condition of licensure for physicians and surgeons, a demonstrated knowledge in the area of child abuse and neglect,

c. testing, as part of fellowship examinations for family medicine and pediatric specialties, to a high standard of competence in the identification, diagnosis, assessment and followup of child abuse and neglect, and

d. working with other child welfare professions and service organizations to improve crossdisciplinary approaches to training and professional development intended to combat child abuse and neglect through, for example, implementation of joint protocols in a revised child abuse handbook.


Police

62. The ministry should work with the Ministry of Attorney General, the Justice Institute of British Columbia and relevant police authorities to ensure that revised and updated protocols in the Inter-Ministry Child Abuse Handbook are made part of the basic knowledge taught in police recruit training. RCMP recruits or transfers to British Columbia should have a summary of the protocols as required reading in their orientation kits.

63. The ministry should promote and participate in more joint training with the police, particularly on risk assessment, interviewing and investigative skills.


Continuing Professional Development

64. The province should develop and fund a comprehensive continuing professional development program for child protection social workers. A first step in that direction should be to adopt immediately a voluntary program of 24 hours of continuing professional development per worker each year. Provincial funding should include associated travel, accommodation and replacement staff costs.

65. Decisions about specific continuing professional development courses should be made jointly by social workers and their supervisors, based on worker performance, service needs, provincial standards and application of the course to the workplace.

66. The delivery formats and length of continuing professional development courses should be varied in order to save time, enhance self-study and produce measurable results.

67. The range of interdisciplinary, inter-agency professional development programs on child welfare issues should be broadened, and courses should be delivered more frequently and in more areas of the province. The Justice Institute of British Columbia should be given a strengthened mandate and funding to deliver these programs across the province.


NEW LEGISLATION: REVIEWINGS THE ACTS

Paramountcy of Child Safety and Well-Being

68. The opening words of s.2 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act should be rephrased to read: "This Act shall be administered and interpreted in recognition that the safety and well-being of a child shall be the paramount considerations, and in accordance with the following principles...." (Interim Report Recommendation 1(a); IMPLEMENTED)

69. The Child, Family and Community Service Act should be amended to state that the right of children to early determination of decisions relating to them is paramount, and that the onus should rest on any other party to show that its interests should take priority over those of the child. (Interim Report Recommendation 1(b); NOT IMPLEMENTED)

70. Section 43 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act should be amended to permit an initial temporary-care order for children under five years of age to last for up to six months. (New Recommendation)


Fairness to Children and Families

71. The Child, Family and Community Service Act, s.8, should be amended to make it clear that when a parent gives "care" of the child to a relative or friend and the ministry supports that arrangement, the caregiver should be able to give routine "parental consent" to all school and recreational activities, and to normal medical check-ups without consulting the parents. (New Recommendation)

72. The Child, Family and Community Service Act should be amended to give a director the discretion to bring a child protection case to court by summons instead of by removing the child. (Interim Report Recommendation 2(a); NOT IMPLEMENTED)

73. The Child, Family and Community Service Act, s.32, should be amended to make it clear that a director can, in limited circumstances, retain control of the care of a child, while leaving the child in the home of a parent, even though a director has proceeded under s.30 (by "removal" of a child). (New Recommendation)

74. The Child, Family and Community Service Act, s.56, should be amended to include notice and consultation rights for any child capable of forming views, and to permit an access application by a child to a parent or former foster parent. (New Recommendation)

75. the Child, Family and Community Service Act should be amended to entrench the fundamental principles that all children and youth capable of forming their own views be informed of important administrative decisions and judicial proceedings affecting them, and be given the opportunity to express their views about them. This would include the right to attend court or other proceedings where decisions affecting them are being made. (Interim Report Recommendation 2(c); NOT IMPLEMENTED)

76. The Child, Family and Community Service Act, s.81(1), should be amended to direct appeals of Provincial Court decisions directly to the Court of Appeal of British Columbia. (Interim Report Recommendation 2(b); NOT IMPLEMENTED)


Aboriginal Children

77. In order to achieve the early and timely determination of certainty about aboriginal ancestry for purposes of notice, the Inquiry recommends two amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act:

a. Define "aboriginal ancestry" so that the ministry will know who to notify.

b. Require the court to canvass the issue at early proceedings (e.g., a presentation hearing) and make a determination where warranted that the parent or child is of "aboriginal ancestry." (New Recommendation)

78. The distinction in the best interests test of the new Act between "cultural heritage" and "cultural identity" should be eliminated by repealing s.4(2) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act. (New Recommendation)


Improving Legislative Powers to Protect Children

79. The circumstances of emotional harm should be amended in s.13(1)(e) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act to include "likely to be" harmed by the parent's conduct. (New Recommendation)

80. Section 16 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act should require an initial investigation of the child's need for protection in response to an initial report; after investigating an initial report, a director may decide to take one of the actions in s.16(2), including conducting a further investigation. (New Recommendation)

81. The director, under s.16(3) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act, should be required to make all reasonable efforts to report the results of all initial and subsequent investigations under s.16(1) and s.16(2) to the parent, the person who reported and other agencies, persons or community bodies that are involved with the child and family. (New Recommendation)

82. A new section should be added to the Child, Family and Community Service Act that permits third-party applications for removal of a child under s.30. (New Recommendation)

83. Section 17(1) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act should be redrafted to eliminate the threshold belief that a director must form before obtaining an order for access to an endangered child. (New Recommendation)

84. Either s.17 or s.65 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act should be amended to permit a director to seek a court order to produce information necessary for a director's investigation. (New Recommendation)

85. Section 20 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act, which provides for family conferences, should not be proclaimed into law until the ministry has more experience with family conferences. If s.20 is proclaimed, it should be amended prior to proclamation so that families in which children are at risk of abuse or neglect are not referred to a family conference. It should be amended so that the use of a family conference is discretionary, and so that a director "may" offer to refer a parent to a family conference. (New Recommendation)

86. If family conferences (s.20 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act) are to be proclaimed into law, the time limits should be removed, and the criteria for the decision for referral to a family conference should be that it is made where a director believes that the child's safety has been ensured and that the family could benefit from family support services or other child welfare services. (New Recommendation)

87. A new section should be added to the Child, Family and Community Service Act in order to permit a director to enforce custody and guardianship rights where a contracted caregiver or foster parent is refusing to relinquish a child who is in care. (New Recommendation)

88. A new section should be added to the Child, Family and Community Service Act that provides that caregivers, including foster parents who have had custody of the child for six months or longer, should receive a minimum of 72 hours' notice before the custody of the child is transferred to another caregiver. (New Recommendation)

89. The 30-day limits on when a director can start an application for a continuing-custody order should be deleted from s.49(1) and s.49(9) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act or replaced with longer limits of at least 60 days. (New Recommendation)


Administrative Accountability

90. The Child, Family and Community Service Act, s.83, which establishes the Child and Family Review Board, should not be proclaimed until the government has considered this report's recommendations for the Child Welfare Review Board, and has strengthened complaint and appeal mechanisms for child welfare service decisions. (Interim Report Recommendation 3; NOT IMPLEMENTED)

91. In order to provide legitimacy to a court review of a director's decisions, either the filing of directors' reports should be removed from s.23, s.33(3) and s.48, or the courts should be given power to question the withdrawal of a case for protection by a director and to require a case to be presented for hearing if the court detects a serious preliminary concern for the child's safety. (New Recommendation)


Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act

92. The Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act should be amended to incorporate powers similar to those found in s.24(1) and s.30(2) of the Ombudsman Act, which state:

s.24 (1) If within a reasonable time after a request by the Ombudsman has been made under s.23 no action is taken that the Ombudsman believes adequate or appropriate, he may, after considering any reasons given by the authority, submit a report of the matter to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and, after that, may make such report to the Legislative Assembly respecting the matter as he considers appropriate.

s.30 (2) The Ombudsman, where he considers it to be in the public interest or in the interest of a person or authority, may make a special report to the Legislative Assembly or comment publicly respecting a matter relating generally to the exercise of his duties under this Act or to a particular case investigated by him.

(Interim Report (Advocacy) Recommendation 2(b); IMPLEMENTED)

93. The Advocate should be remunerated on a basis consistent with the other Officers of the Legislature. (Interim Report (Advocacy) Recommendation 2(c); IMPLEMENTED)

94. The Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act should be amended to include a provision similar to s.15.1 of the Ombudsman Act, which came into force in 1993:

No person shall discharge, suspend, expel, intimidate, coerce, evict, impose any pecuniary or other penalty on or otherwise discriminate against a person because that person complains, gives evidence or otherwise assists in the investigation, inquiry or reporting of a complaint or other proceeding under this Act.

(Interim Report (Advocacy) Recommendation 2(d); IMPLEMENTED)


As recommended in Quality Assurance:

36. The role of the Advocate established under the Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act needs to be strengthened by:

a. ensuring that the Act states unequivocally that the role of the Advocate is to advocate on behalf of children and youth, and to advocate on behalf of their families only when such advocacy is consistent with and promotes the interests of that family's children,

b. declaring publicly that the Advocate's mandate encompasses all child-related services provided or funded by the province. This could be accomplished by adding a schedule to the Act setting out the "designated Act" and "designated services" that will, over time, be brought within the Advocate's mandate, and

c. amending the Act to give the Advocate explicit authority to appoint legal counsel to represent children and youth individually or collectively, in appropriate circumstances.


Designing a New Child Welfare System

DESIGNING A NEW CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

The Need for a New System

95. The province's child welfare constituency should include all children.

96. The province should establish a preventive program similar to the State of Hawaii's Healthy Start program, and should strengthen the capacity of the province's public health nurses in the early identification of children at risk.


Community-Based Children's Centres

97. Core child welfare service providers should be commonly employed and commonly funded, and should work together out of multi-disciplinary, community-based Children's Centres, which should deliver the following services:

and possibly also the following:

98. Child welfare support service providers should be located in Children's Centres, but not necessarily commonly employed, and should deliver services such as:

99. Ancillary child welfare service providers, such as police, hospitals and youth containment centre staff should work with core and secondary support groups to ensure that services are delivered in a coordinated, multi-disciplinary manner.

100. Children's Centres should control the contracting process, and should decide what services will be provided by private sector contractors.

101. Contractors and their employees must be treated fairly, and must have a forum to voice concerns about the way services are being delivered to children and youth.


Responsibility for Managing the Delivery of Child Welfare Services

102. The province should devolve to communities the responsibility for ensuring that a full spectrum of child welfare services are delivered in accordance with province-wide practice standards.

103. The province should devolve to communities the responsibility for the day-to-day management of child welfare services.


Regional Authorities

104. The province should establish approximately 20 Regional Child Welfare Boards, to govern and manage the Children's Centres.

105. The Regional Child Welfare Boards should:

a. be governed by a board of directors appointed from elected public officials,

b. allocate and approve Children's Centre budgets in their region,

c. be the employer of all Children's Centre staff in their region,

d. provide input in setting province-wide service standards,

e. provide input to the determination of qualifications and training of staff,

f. be responsible for designing regional or community specific services, and

g. be responsible for local professional development training for staff.


Provincial Responsibilities

106. Provincial responsibility for all child welfare services, currently scattered through numerous ministries, should be brought together into a new Ministry for Children and Youth.

107. Provincial responsibilities which should be brought together include:

The Ministry for Children and Youth could, after appropriate consultation, and assuming that it served the needs of children and youth, also assume responsibility for:

108. The Ministry for Children and Youth's main responsibilities should be:

a. policy development, including research and inter-ministerial coordination,

b. design of province-wide child welfare services,

c. training in all aspects of child welfare,

d. quality assurance, including:

e. financial management, including:

f. operations, including:


Guardianship

109. The Ministry for Children and Youth should retain responsibility for setting province-wide policies respecting guardianship.

110. The Ministry for Children and Youth should grant guardianship responsibility to one person in each Regional Child Welfare Board other than the chief executive officer.

111. Each regional guardian should delegate guardianship authority to qualified child protection workers in Children's Centres.


MAKING THE TRANSITION

Making the Transition

112. The Lieutenant Governor in Council should appoint, within two months after delivery of this report, a Commissioner for Transition to the Ministry for Children and Youth.

113. The Commissioner for Transition to the Ministry for Children and Youth should have a renewable fixed term appointment of two or three years, and should report independently to the Office of the Premier.

114. The Commissioner for Transition to the Ministry for Children and Youth should have a statutory mandate to:

a. recommend legislative changes and to make organizational and structural changes necessary to create the new child welfare system recommended in this report, and

b. report to the public on any matter relating to the commissioner's mandate.

115. The Legislative Assembly should, in the first legislative session following delivery of this report, pass legislation entrenching the appointment, tenure and mandate of the Commissioner for Transition to the Ministry for Children and Youth.

116. The Minister of Social Services should act immediately to implement the interim reform recommendations contained in this report, including the following:

a. require that all applicants for ministry social work positions have at least a Bachelor of Social Work degree,

b. require that all new child protection social work employees receive a comprehensive 20-week training program before taking on caseloads,

c. eliminate arbitrary rules and policies which inhibit the sharing of important case information among child welfare service providers,

d. give intake social workers practical tools, such as cellular telephones, that will enhance their safety and enable them to make timely decisions,

e. give district offices technological aids, such as word processors with document assembly software, to assist in preparing for court applications,

f. restore the mandate of, and provide adequate staff for, the Audit and Review Division,

g. broaden the mandate of the Child and Family Review Board to be in keeping with the recommended Child Welfare Review Board, and

h. amend the GAIN Act so that social workers can access information from the GAIN program necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of children.

117. If the Ombudsman supports the recommendations contained in this report, the Ombudsman should monitor the Ministry of Social Services' implementation of the interim reforms and the province's development of the proposed new child welfare system, and report to the Legislative Assembly as appropriate.

118. The province should report to the Ombudsman:

a. within two months after delivery of this report, on its progress respecting the appointment of the Commissioner for Transition to the Ministry for Children and Youth, and

b. within six months after delivery of this report, on its plans for implementation of the other recommendations contained in this report.


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