Child and Family Services in the Northwest Territories—Many services provided to children and families have worsened since 2014
Yellowknife, 23 October 2018—A report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada tabled today in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly concludes that the Department of Health and Social Services and the Health and Social Services Authorities did not meet key responsibilities for the protection and well-being of children, youth, and their families. This is the second time since 2014 that the Auditor General has identified serious deficiencies in the delivery of child and family services in the Northwest Territories, and in the structures intended to support this delivery.
“We determined that many of the services provided to children and families in the Northwest Territories that we examined were in fact worse than when we examined them in 2014”, said Mr. Glenn Wheeler, principal director on the audit, speaking in Yellowknife on behalf of the Auditor General.
For example, the audit found that Health and Social Services Authorities did not maintain the required regular contact with almost 90% of the children placed in foster care or other placements, compared to just under 60% in the 2014 audit. They also did not adequately screen the majority of foster homes before placing children or conduct annual reviews of these homes to ensure that children were well cared for. The audit also found that Health and Social Services Authorities placed 14 out of 22 children with permanent guardians without performing basic checks such as a home study or criminal record check.
Since 2014, the Department of Health and Social Services has been focused on changing its processes without sufficiently considering the impact of introducing complex changes into an already overburdened system. The audit found that many of the changes examined were not well implemented or resourced, and produced worse services for children and their families. Despite multiple commitments to do so, the Department still has not assessed whether the financial and human resource levels it allocates to Authorities are enough to deliver the required services for children and families.
“We are deeply concerned by the findings in this audit”, added Mr. Wheeler. “The Department and the Authorities must start working on how they will achieve their common objective of providing better services and achieving better outcomes for children, youth, and families. Children will remain at risk until they make the changes they said were critical, and that they committed to making.”
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The report “Child and Family Services in the Northwest Territories” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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