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BCGEU welcomes Auditor General’s recommendations to address MCFD’s ineffective oversight of contracted residential services

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia's report released today: Oversight of Contracted Residential Services for Children and Youth in Care. The BCGEU has for decades called on the provincial government to address chronic and significant challenges within the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and supports the recommendations made in this report to improve outcomes for children and youth in government care.

"The fact, as the report shows, that the quality of care in placements in contracted residential services is simply unknown is distressing and unacceptable," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "MCFD must act urgently to provide oversight of its contracts, and eliminate this added and unnecessary risk posed to an already vulnerable population of children and youth."

The report found that when it comes to providing contracted residential services, the ministry did not have a province-wide strategy, good information on the supply and demand for placements, nor an effective contract management framework. The report also found that the ministry did not have any cultural planning requirements for contracted residential services to ensure that Indigenous children and youth receive culturally appropriate care – a service the BCGEU has long advocated for.

In the BCGEU's most recent submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, the union called on the provincial government to address the deep, unresolved staff retention issues in MCFD that prevent better resource management and collaboration among frontline teams. This includes improving working conditions for staff, and better supporting resource and guardianship workers who work with contracted residential service providers. The submission also repeated the union's calls to adequately fund Delegated Aboriginal Agencies (DAAs) in order to improve working conditions and therefore the care of Indigenous children and youth.

"The ministry has capable, dedicated staff working in children and youth care, all of whom are BCGEU members. They want to make a difference but MCFD must adequately resource their work and make guidelines clear in order to move forward."

The BCGEU formed a Joint Working Group with MCFD in 2014 following a recommendation made in an earlier Representative for Children and Youth report. The union welcomes any opportunity to work with the ministry, DAAs and other stakeholders to take action on the findings in the Auditor General's report.


Read related BCGEU reports:

Naut'sa mawt sqwaluwun: Working together with one mind and one heart (2018)

Closing the Circle (2015)

Choose Children (2014)