"Social workers in the BCGEU/NUPGE, who have long advocated for similar changes, stand behind the Representative's positions on these vital issues." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (30 Oct. 2017) — Room for Improvement, a report released by British Columbia's Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), makes recommendations for additional funding, as well as for coordination among the Ministry of Education, school districts, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development to help children and youth in care succeed academically. The report also highlights the need for culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children in care, a service the B.C. Government Service and Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) has long advocated for.
Lack of funding and coordination, understaffing, heavy workloads contribute to the academic gap
"The report makes clear the academic gap between B.C.'s children in care and other students, with even greater disparities among Indigenous children in care," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "Social workers in the BCGEU/NUPGE, who have long advocated for similar changes, stand behind the Representative's positions on these vital issues."
In 2014 and 2015 respectively, the BCGEU/NUPGE released the Choose Children and Closing the Circle reports, which called for major investments in the system of children and youth in care. These investments included increased resources, staffing, educational support, and cultural training in all aspects of care for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth.
The Room for Improvement report also highlights ongoing issues around understaffing and the need to address high staff turnover and workloads. "If adequate staffing levels were reached, it would be possible for social workers to work more closely with schools to ensure that children in care have what they need to succeed," says Judy Fox-McGuire, BCGEU Vice-President for Social Information and Health – Component 6.
In light of demographic patterns revealed in recent census data, the need for culturally relevant services for Aboriginal children and youth in care could not be more pressing. The BCGEU/NUPGE calls on provincial and federal governments to come to agreement and clarify responsibilities around ensuring that some of the most vulnerable members of our society have the supports they need.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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