BCGEU commends report calling for overhaul of system to support children with special needs - BCGEU

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family released by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) today, and their 11 recommendations to overhaul British Columbia's system of services to support children with complex needs.

The report details the difficult and heartbreaking story of one child with special needs that went virtually "unseen" by the care system for years and suffered profound neglect as a result. The Representative calls on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, to resolve the systemic failures that led to this case – and to help prevent other families from enduring a similar experience.

The report recognizes the challenges faced by front-line social workers and that "their ability to conduct their duties is only as strong as the resources available to them." This statement aligns with the BCGEU's ongoing work to advocate for increased resources and support for social workers who face untenable workloads in the sector.

"Chronic staffing shortages and workload pressures within MCFD and among front-line social workers have led to dysfunction in the care system for too long" says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We must commit the resources necessary to support those providing care in order to protect vulnerable children and youth. The BCGEU formed a Joint Working Group with MCFD in 2014 following a recommendation made in an earlier RCY report, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ministry to take action on the findings in today's report."

The need for a service delivery model that enables information-sharing between service providers, as well as culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children in care, a service the BCGEU has long advocated for, are also highlighted by the Representative.

Read the RCY report:

Alone and Afraid: Lessons learned from the ordeal of a child with special needs and his family

Read related BCGEU reports:

Closing the Circle (2015)

Choose Children (2014)