It is time for some serious discussions to take place about the administration, competence and accountability of the leadership of the Ministry of Children & Family Development. The Representative of Children & Youth, Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond wrote a letter directly to MCFD Deputy Minister Lesley Du Toit and MHSD Deputy Minister Cairine McDonald regarding the placement of children in need of protection into unsafe homes under the Child in the Home of a Relative program (CIHR). In this letter, Ms. Turpel-Lafond clearly outlined substantial risks that were posed to the safety and wellbeing children placed by the government into family homes.
It is entirely insubordinate, questionable and inappropriate that Ms. Du Toit and Ms. McDonald have disregarded and evaded their direct responsibility in answering the questions of the independent Representative of Children and Youth. It is, however, not surprising in light of Ms. Du Toit's lengthy history of passing the buck, or simply ignoring the voices and questions of stakeholders throughout the child welfare system.
Ms. Du Toit, vastly in over her head and never having worked a day in her life in BC’s child welfare system, was handpicked and grossly overpaid (in both salary and perks) by Gordon Campbell to completely dismantle the child welfare system in BC. That is what she is getting paid to do whether that is a good idea, or not, whether children and others are harmed or not. From the time of her open tenure in this role, she has made it clear she has no commitment to the province and will simply collect her salary and leave for her home country at the end of her contract. Unlike all of us, she will not be faced with the aftermath that will occur for generations.
Community Living BC is a real world example of the damage of devolution and the malevolent intentions and forces behind it, remember, Doug Walls is Gordon Campbell's relative by marriage. It was doomed to failure from the outset, with many government reports, stakeholders and consultants saying so. Now, only a few short years later, MCFD is now in the process of resuming full responsibility for Community Living Children’s Services. Ask yourselves as taxpayers and shareholders in the BC government, WHERE IS THE MONEY FROM CLBC? Why must the BC government spend more unknown dollars to repair and re-organize a failed re-organization? Does that not speak to a complete and chronic lack of effective leadership under which the children, youth and families of BC have suffered enough? Stakeholders around the province have been giving the BC government advice for years on this whole thing, which has been met with silence, arrogance and disregard.
Full Financial and Organizational Audit of MCFD, CLBC & Aboriginal Agencies
We believe that the Office of the Auditor General of BC should conduct a complete audit, including a comprehensive financial audit of the funds the BC government has expended toward the devolution of services to Community Living BC and now the re-uptake of the Children’s Services division.
We also believe that it is in the public interest to perform a complete audit on the funds the BC government has expended toward devolution of child welfare services to Aboriginal agencies, as well as a review and audit of the progress to date of the devolution of Aboriginal child welfare.
Finally, we would call on the Auditor General of BC and the Representative of Children and Youth to conduct a joint audit of the complete funds and work expended by the BC government and the Ministry of Children & Family Development on Accreditation initiatives over the last seven years.
It is offensive and insulting to the people of BC, that Ms. Du Toit continues to hide in her ivory tower, rewarding special contracts to friends to create “feel good” reports that ignore the harm occurring in BC, and sticking her head in the sand about the devastation and destruction of some of our most vulnerable and needy children in BC.
In light of the fact that both of these senior bureaucrats will likely be receiving compensation increases under Gordon Campbell’s ill-conceived beefing up of the salaries of Deputy Minister’s, ADM’s etc. citizens and voters in BC have a right to receive a substantive report on what actual work Ms. Du Toit and Ms. McDonald have completed and produced over the course of their work in their positions within the BC government, along with their job descriptions.
Page 3 of the 2007/08 Measures on Executive Compensation are quite clear what standards and expectations are in place for the current fiscal year. A quick review is quite clear that MCFD’s leadership can’t even come close to meeting those expectations. And thus far, a total record of the compensation we are paying Ms. Du Toit or Ms. McDonald and their minions has been difficult to find.
Passing the buck onto frontline child protection workers for decisions to place children is a tired and false straw man. All decisions about placement of children are carried out by social workers, with their supervisors and managers. Under this current government, they would rather place children in risky homes than spend the money to put children in care, or put them in Kith & Kin, or Out of Care homes and offer adequate income and support services to relatives who need more help than the measly pittance they are provided on CIHR. I’d like to see most of us take on abused and neglected kids, even if we love them, for the bargain basement prices the BC government offers to keep kids out of more expensive foster care. Many of the families taking children in live in poverty and substandard conditions themselves. I’m quite sure the Representative will find the incomes of most of the families will be low and even under the poverty line.
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance BC Employment and Assistance Rate Tables
Child in Home of Relative
Age Group Maximum Rate
Birth to 5 years $257.46
6 to 9 years $271.59
10 to 11 years $314.31
12 to 13 years $357.82
14 to 17 years $402.70
18 years $454.32
Has Ms. Du Toit ever looked at the autopsy photographs of all of the children and youth in BC who have died since her watch began? How about Minister Christensen, or the big guy himself, Gordon Campbell? These circumstances are where the buck stops. Children and youth hurt and die when the child welfare system fails to operate with competence, ethics and integrity. It is not rhetoric to say that a fair and just society must position the safety of children over money.
While we’re on the topic of child deaths, why is it that the BC Coroners Service has been incapable of providing statistical reports of child and youth deaths and causes from 2004 to 2008? Since an entire Child Death Review unit exists, wouldn’t it be of the highest priority for this unit to provide information that is in the public interest? While we’re reviewing the work and results of the DM’s of MCFD, it seems like a logical thing to review the work produced by the senior managers of the BC Coroners Office and Child Death Review Unit as well, because in looking at the information they have made available to the public, nothing much has been done by this office since 2004. That might not be such a coincidence though, since the director of the Child Death Review Unit used to be the Northern region’s Director of Child Protection in MCFD.
At no point in the last seven years has MCFD been in worse shape, both organizationally and in carrying out its mandate, to protect and serve children, youth and families. BC's child welfare system has become a national embarassment and disgrace. This is directly related to the leadership and governance of MCFD at all levels, far beyond the responsibilities of the many frontline workers who are leaving in droves, unhealthy, unable to work, or function and discarded like garbage.
For a government that fancies itself as using a business model to organize itself, I suggest it is time to begin utilizing a private sector perspective on the work and conduct of senior managers and bureaucrats in the BC government. In the private sector, if you have chronic staff morale and illness and are losing staff at an unprecedented level, if you, as a leader, are incapable of responsible, ethical and effective fiscal management and you cannot produce any concrete results from your work, you are FIRED. Period.
As citizens and taxpayers in BC, we are all shareholders in the corporatized neo-conservative environment that is the BC government under the Campbell reign of terror, corruption and incompetence. We will replace this government in May 2009, however unless a major housecleaning of the senior bureaucracy and management also happens, little change or improvement will occur.
If the public were able to see the lack of education, training and experience of many middle and senior managers and bureaucrats under the BC Liberals, they would understand why the incompetence has become so entrenched, structural and institutionalized and why so many citizens continue to suffer as a result of the worst sitting government in BC’s history. When the BC Liberals are out for good, the true extent of the damage they have caused will be known to all, and the hole at the bottom of the empty cookie jar will be exposed once and for all. The legacy will last for at least a generation and beyond if we do not correct ourselves immediately.
We are calling on the leadership of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the BC Public Service Agency, the BC government and Treasury Board to dramatically increase core and infrastructure funding to MCFD, Community Living BC and all Aboriginal child welfare agencies so that all children, youth and vulnerable persons in need of protection can be served in the public good.
Consider this our submission to the 2009 BC Budget consultation.
BC Liberals Suck
Circles of Care: Community Child Protection
A Participatory Research Model Strengthening Restorative Local Governance in Support of South African Children’s Rights
(Cook, P. & Du Toit, L. 2004, 59pp) IICRD & CYCAD's Final Project Report prepared for The CIDA Child Protection Research Fund (CPRF)
· Click here to download the "Circles of Care"
Final Research Report
· "Circles Of Care" Mid Term Research Report
July 2008 - Media Release Re: Executive Compensation
July 21, 2008
BC government rewards public service executives’ ‘performance’ – while children and families languish on waitlists
A Discussion Paper on Community Living: Exploring Solutions.
BC Government & Service Employees Union (BCGEU).