Improving B.C.’s adoption rate for children in care requires taking a long-term view, but the ministry in charge is too busy running from crisis to crisis, the New Democrats’ critic for Children and Family Development said Monday.
Claire Trevena, New Democrat MLA for North Vancouver Island, said because the issue isn’t urgent — unlike, for example, teens at risk of suicide or children with special needs requiring support — it falls off the priority list.
Children awaiting adoptive placement in a permanent family home while living in a stable, safe foster home don’t seem like such a pressing issue by comparison.
“Long-term adoption? Trying to find some stability? It doesn’t have so much impetus,” said Trevena. “It’s just too easy to drop from the agenda.”
Her comments follow a Sunday Times Colonist report on the issue, in which Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said the province’s adoption rate appears to have plateaued in recent years, even dropping slightly.
Trevena said her figures show only about 13 per cent of the kids who are in care in B.C. and cleared for adoption — more than 1,000, according to government officials — are finding permanent homes.
She credited the Ministry of Children and Family Development for making and keeping adoption of children in care as a policy focus.
But she said the ministry is being battered too often by crises.
“If you have a ministry that is so overwhelmed by other problems, how can it look at [adoption] with the vigour it deserves?” said Trevena.
Stephanie Cadieux, minister of Children and Family Services, said last week that the government is committed to a policy of providing stability and permanence for all children in care.
Maurine Karagianis, New Democrat MLA for Esquimalt and former critic for Children and Families, said adoption is one of the most complicated issues facing the province’s children in care.
For one thing, it can close off an avenue for a biological family to re-unite. Also, a large percentage of children in care are from First Nations backgrounds, and the preference is usually to place them with First Nations families.
“The lack of success that the government has had with adoption speaks to the amount of cross-pressuring in the adoptive system,” said Karagianis.
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