A BCGEU report released last week shows that we are failing B.C.’s children.
“B.C.’s child welfare system is falling apart,” says the BC Government Employees Union website (www. bcgeu.ca/choose-children). “Frontline workers can’t always get to those who most urgently need help. They are buried under massive caseloads, severe staffing shortages and a complete lack of resources. The situation is endemic, and putting vulnerable children, youth and families at risk.”
The BCGEU report, Choose Children, is based on 3,418 individual surveys and face-to -ace meetings with 412 front-line workers in 14 communities across British Columbia. It reveals issues putting children at risk including chronic understaffing, serious caseload and workload management problems, and an expensive computer system wracked by malfunctions.
Doug Donaldson, New Democrat spokesperson for children and family development says the Liberals are failing to prioritize the safety and well-being of British Columbia’s most vulnerable children.
More than $44 million has been stripped from the Ministry of Children and Family Development over the last six years, despite the number of children requiring services increasing, meaning there are fewer front-line staff doing more work. As one team lead in the Interior said in the report, “we don’t know what we don’t know, and someone’s going to get hurt or die.”
Children’s Minister Stephanie Cadieux responded by announcing that 70 temporary child-welfare staff will be hired full time.
This obviously provides no immediate relief to the situation. Simply changing a front line worker from a temporary to a full time employee does nothing to alleviate the shortage of staff.
With income levels in the Boundary as low as they are, this is a very important issue locally.