“We welcome these recommendations which address many of the concerns of front-line staff that were raised in our Choose Children report." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (16 Dec. 2015) — The B.C. government should swiftly implement the recommendations put forward in Bob Plecas report on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), says the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). Plecas, a former deputy minister who undertook the review corroborates in his report most of the findings and recommendations from BCGEU’s 2014 Choose Children report.
“The Plecas report validates the concerns of front-line child, youth and family workers regarding excessive workloads and insufficient staffing, lack of resources and training, and recruitment and retention,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “We welcome these recommendations which address many of the concerns of front-line staff that were raised in our Choose Children report, published in November 2014. We urge the government to implement Plecas’ recommendations swiftly.”
BCGEU/NUPGE members look forward to providing input on how the recommendations can be best implemented
Plecas’s recommendations include increased funding, significant increases to staffing levels, increased salaries to recruit and retain skilled workers, improvements to training, and changes to the management model.
“Front-line child, youth and family workers will welcome the recommendations made in the Plecas report,” says Doug Kinna of BCGEU, Vice-President Social Information and Health for Component 6. “Front-line workers should provide their input when these recommendations are implemented. Their experience is crucial to maximize the potential benefits of increased funding, resources, training and structural change.”
Representative for Children and Youth must remain independent
According to the BCGEU/NUPGE it would be a mistake to make changes to the independent role of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY). “RCY and the ministry are currently working together on a review of the policy regarding children in care who are placed in hotels. This type of collaboration, informed by a critical and independent oversight of the policy and actions of the ministry, is the way forward,” says Smith.
The BCGEU Choose Children report gave voice to the workers on the front lines of B.C.’s child, youth, and family services. The report issued concrete recommendations for fixing the systemic failures in the province’s child welfare system, including additional funding, developing caseload standards, addressing significant staffing problems, and providing improved training, among others.
Highlights of the Plecas report
On structural change: "Structural change has been endemic at MCFD since it came into being in 1996. The Ministry has had imposed top-down government directions and programs that have not worked, not worked well, or are on track but require improvement. During the time of the J.P. case, the Ministry was mired in a particularly convulsive period of structural upheaval (page 14)."
On the nature of the work: “I know that people do this job for intrinsic reasons, but in our society pay is the way good employers recognize good work. And there is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most difficult jobs in all of government (page 19)."
On staffing levels: “The BCGEU's analysis suggests that 300 FTE's are required at the front line, not 200, and I expect they are closer to the correct number than the Ministry (page 21)."
On child protection: "I find it particularly concerning that, over the past four years, the proportion of MCFD’s budget that is dedicated to child protection has actually decreased in real terms, leaving alone the impacts of inflation (page 23)."
On training: “[Current funding] does not allow MCFD to fully prepare new front-line workers for their work in the field, or to keep existing workers engaged and fully trained in new and evolving ways to practice. Leaders in the Ministry face a similar dearth of training and development opportunities (page 27)."
On funding: “Let me be clear: additional resources with phased-in budget increases are needed for the plan to work (page 43)."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE