Broad array of services needed for vulnerable youth

Re: “Teen who died in treatment program didn’t get help he needed, report says,” Oct. 20.

On Thursday, B.C.’s representative for children and youth released a report about a young man who died in a court-ordered treatment program on Vancouver Island. This is yet another case of a vulnerable youth not getting the help they needed when they needed it. What this family is going through is nothing short of tragic. And we should thank them for sharing this story so that we might try to prevent this from happening to another child.

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The Federation of Community Social Services of B.C. agrees that secure or safe care needs to be considered as an addition to B.C.’s system of care. It was a key recommendation in our joint review of B.C.’s residential services for youth. However, secure care will not be a quick fix to these systemic problems. Secure care needs to be understood as one part of a well-resourced, integrated system of accessible community-based supports for young people and their families.

Only a broad, fully funded array of services will prevent other children from falling through the cracks. And these services, including secure care, must be provided in culturally appropriate and meaningful ways — ways that are informed, led, and supported by indigenous and Métis community organizations provided with resources required to make real change.

Rick FitzZaland

Executive Director

Federation of Community Social Services of BC

Victoria

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