The B.C. government plans to finally deliver on a six-year-old promise to release regular reports on the status of 8,000 children in its care. Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux has confirmed that a draft report will be available in a few weeks for review by members of the standing committee on children and youth.
The final report will be posted on the ministry's website by February and updated three times a year, she said.
The report is expected to include a wide range of information on children in care, including health status, moves in care, contacts with the youth justice system, school performance and participation in early-childhood education.
"We absolutely have to continually monitor our performance and track our progress," Cadieux said. "We'll use the information from that report - along with all the other work that we do - to continue to try and improve the outcomes for children and youth in our system."
There are currently 8,193 children and youth in government care. Of those, 54 per cent - 4,406 - are aboriginal. Former judge Ted Hughes called on the ministry in 2006 to begin monitoring the progress of those children over time.
"Measurements that are based on actual results will give the ministry and the public a better understanding of the children and young people in its care, and what effects its pro-grams are having on their lives," he wrote in a critical review of B.C.'s child-protection system.
The government promised at the time to act on all of Hughes's recommendations, but has been dragging its feet for years, said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s independent child advocate.
Turpel-Lafond said the ministry has to be accountable if it wants children, families and the public to have confidence in the child-protection system.
"The only way you can show accountability ... is you actually say what you did the for the children in a year when you were the parent," she said.
"Where are they living? Are they in school? Are their health needs met? These are crucial things to look at, just as a parent would say in the context of their own kids, 'How are my kids doing?'
"The state needs to be able to be accountable because they are the parent, and we, the taxpayers, support this system and expect good service," she said. "And we have been plagued in this ministry by poor service to these kids."
Turpel-Lafond said the ministry has made real improvements under a new deputy minister, but needs to maintain that momentum.
© Copyright 2013