Child-Welfare Fixes Taking Too Long: Report
Kusch, Larry, Winnipeg Free Press
The provincial government is making slow progress in implementing key child-safety initiatives and still lacks an effective central data bank to ensure kids in care don't fall through the cracks.
Those are some of the findings of a report on Manitoba's Child and Family Services division that provincial auditor general Carol Bellringer released Wednesday.
The report followed up on an audit Bellringer's office conducted six years ago. Of 29 improvements to child welfare Bellringer recommended in 2006, only 15 have been implemented. She categorized the status of the remaining 14 as "in progress."
The auditor found the child abuse registry is not up to date, and the province has made little progress in conducting recommended background checks on foster parents.
Bellringer said a key area of concern is the continued lack of an effective central information system to track children in care. The system is plagued by information gaps and duplication.
"That's the area that I would have expected to have seen more progress," Bellringer said.
Opposition politicians said the report shows after more than a dozen years in office, the NDP has made little progress in improving the child welfare system.
Conservative Leanne Rowat said it is "shameful" the government has implemented so few of the auditor's recommendations in six years.
"The government is failing Manitoba children in care," she said.
Liberal Jon Gerrard said it's evident the government still lacks a strategic plan for child and family services. "The NDP still haven't figured out what outcomes they want for CFS," he said in a release.
Manitoba's child welfare has been in turmoil for much of the last decade. The number of children in care has almost doubled in that time and stood at 9,432 as of last year.
The government's move to transfer control to aboriginal-run authorities in 2004 created uncertainty among workers.
Family Services Minister Jennifer Howard said the government has had to contend with nearly 300 recommendations to improve to child welfare from a variety of reports since 2006. …