These organizations are meant to keep an eye on how the MCFD cares for our children. Sadly, on January 27, 2016, the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth completed their final report, Concrete Actions for Systemic Change, was released on January 27, 2016. I am disheartened because I don’t feel much has changed. How many more children have to die before substantial changes are made? Especially when I read in the Alex’s and Joshua’s Stories that “social workers and other ministry staff did not fulfill MCFD’s legal obligation” or “Joshua spent 122 days in BCCH, a stay that was extended in part because social workers and mental health professionals couldn’t agree on where he could safely live after discharge.”
On the RCYBC Facebook page it states “The Representative for Children and Youth supports children, youth and families who need help in dealing with the child-serving system, provides oversight to the Ministry of Children and Family Development and advocates for improvements to the child-serving system. As well, the Representative reviews, investigates and publicly reports out on critical injuries and deaths of children receiving government services.” I’m glad the RCYBC provides oversight and advocates for improvements to the MCFD but who exactly has the power to change the law and/or force changes especially now that the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth has completed their final report?
How many more broken promises will our children fall through until a standard of care is established for mental health services for children and youth that is similar to what is offered for physical health issues? How many more?
Instead of traumatizing family and children with broken promises from the lack of standards and numerous gaps, the MCFD should be advocating for a system that will offer a full continuum of mental health services, including prevention, early intervention, family support, emergency and acute care, and “step-down” services to prepare children and youth for life in the community. Every day is a day too long where more children will fall through the cracks from broken promises.
On October 4, 2017 we learn about Joshua’s Story
“…The fact that Joshua’s mother struggled to find a suitable caregiver for him and was
continually called upon to pick him up from school despite having no ability to
do this while still holding down a job is evidence that support services for families
facing complex mental health challenges are lacking in B.C. And the fact that Joshua’s
complete withdrawal from school as a young teenager was not a trigger for a more
serious intervention is a sign that child welfare, health and education are not always
working together the way they should for the benefit of young people in B.C. with
mental health concerns. …”
On February 6, 2017 we learned about Alex’s Story.
Lacking any permanent connection to his family and culture and without the mental health supports that might have made a difference, an 18-year-old Métis youth in care took his own life in an act of desperation, says an investigative report issued today by British Columbia’s Acting Representative for Children and Youth.
Broken Promises: Alex’s Story illustrates how the B.C. child welfare system failed to act on opportunities to find Alex a permanent home with family and instead left him to drift through 17 care placements over 11 years until he ultimately leapt through his Abbotsford hotel window on Sept. 18, 2015. Alex was alone at the time, having been placed in the hotel room for 49 days as the Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA) caring for him could not find a more suitable option.