Do the devolution

Yesterday, we reported children and family development's South African supremo Lesley du Toit reaffirmed her commitment to devolution in an email sent to ministry staffers on Tuesday. In an earlier "transformation progress" memo, Ms. du Toit elaborated on that commitment, noting "servies will be regionalized over the next four years" with a priority being placed on "aboriginal services." The regionalization of those aboriginal services will be, according to the deputy minister, "in the hands of the Aboriginal forum or caucus which will include the Aboriginal leadership, delegated agencies, boards, regional coordinators, communities, chiefs and elders, and others." Indeed, the memo goes onto note "legislation for the emerging regional governance/structure authorities will be developed during 2006 by Aboriginal people with the support of the ministry" - specifically Deb Foxcroft. The following is a complete copy of that email, which also notifies staff that Ms. du Toit will be backing in South Africa from July 9 to August 6 where she'll be packing up her belongings and sorting out personal matters.

Transformation Progress

Message from the Deputy Minister to all MCFD Staff

Dear Colleagues

I'm writing to you on behalf of the MCFD Leadership Team to update you on our progress so far with regard to transformation first steps and various matters which concern all of us in MCFD.

MCFD Leadership Team

Doug Hughes (RED, Interior Region)
Peter Cunningham (RED, North Region
Donna Knox (RED, Vancouver Coastal Region)
Les Boon (RED, Fraser Region)
Ann Horan (RED, Vancouver Island Region)
Patrick Doyle (Strategic HR)
Kelly Gleeson (Communications)
Mark Sieben (ADM, Policy & Legislation and A/Director of Child Protection)
Deb Foxcroft (ADM, Aboriginal Regional Services);
Doug Haymen (ADM, Regional Services);
Alan Markwart (ADM, Provincial Services);
Sarf Ahmed (ADM Corporate Services);
Nikki McCallum (Transformation Team, DM office);
Karen MacMillan (DM Office);
Beth James (A/Associate DM);
Lesley du Toit (DM & Transformation Team)

The Leadership Team have just concluded two days of meetings (June 16th and 17th) and would like to provide you with as much information as we can as we move along. We are committed to ensuring that information is shared clearly and frequently. We will try, whenever possible, to communicate in person with individuals and groups and I would like to ask that all managers try to do this as well. In addition, we will use the intranet; the Internet and on occasion, e-mail, to ensure people can access information and contribute. You'll be hearing more on this in the near future.

To that end, we are establishing a generic e-mail address which I would like you and our partners and stakeholders to use to contribute your ideas, comments on documents from workshops and meetings, respond to my messages, or raise questions and concerns. I would just ask that we all try to be constructive and solution-orientated even when you need to give information that relates to feelings of anger or frustration. In addition, we will soon be providing suggestion boxes for your use if you do not wish to use e-mail.

The generic e-mail address to use is: MCF.DeputyMinistersOffice@gov.bc.ca

If you would like any of the Leadership Team to respond to you specifically you should state that and we will do the best we can to respond as quickly as possible. Otherwise we will assume you are making a general contribution. You have my word that you will never be disadvantaged, targeted, or treated with disrespect because of your e-mail or comments in a meeting, even if you have something challenging or critical to say if you mark your e-mail as confidential, it will remain so all inputs will be taken seriously and that regardless of position everyone in MCFD is of equal importance.

Should you experience anything other than the above, please inform a member of the Leadership Team.

I would like to thank those MCFD staff who participated in the planning workshops or discussion sessions with Lenora over the past four weeks. We appreciate your honesty and willingness to participate. I want to assure you that I and the leadership team have taken your input seriously. We studied your comments this weekend and are formulating strategies and actions to deal with your concerns and your suggestions. Some fall within the transformation process and will be integrated into that strategy, and some do not, but regardless, we will do our best to address what you have raised. (I have attached a summary of those sessions for your information)

Thank you too for the many positive, exciting and encouraging suggestions and comments that have come out of the workshops and discussion groups.

We understand that many staff, particularly at headquarters, are tired of what seems to be endless change. Some are angry, frustrated, anxious and discouraged. While this may seem to be yet another change which may result in nothing, I want to assure you that the government, the Minister, the leadership team and I, are going to be steadfast in a) building on everything that you have already achieved, b) completing this transformation within the next 4-5 years (and sooner where possible), and c) ensuring that there is sufficient strength in the leadership, ministry as a whole, and the system, so that things do not reverse themselves and you do not find yourselves starting yet again in years to come.

Restructuring of Headquarters:

You will already be aware the changes at the headquarters leadership level.

The main reason for us doing this re-structuring is to ensure that our structure and way of functioning provides the best service and support possible to the regions and our various partners as we move forward on transformation and as they continue with quality service delivery as it evolves. To this end we are therefore streamlining various programmes and branches so that our services are more accessible, and "user friendly", making it possible for our regions and partners to do the best they can do for children, youth, families and communities.

I will be announcing our new head quarters organizational structure by June 30th. The announcement will identify functional reporting structures down to the work unit level. It will not however, identify individual reporting relationships as this will take additional time as we consult and review individual job responsibilities between now and the fall.

I want to assure staff that although some roles and responsibilities will change all regular employees will have a job and many employees will simply continue performing the duties they currently perform. The contribution of auxiliary employees within the ministry is valued. For auxiliary employees, we will continue to honour terms of appointment letters. However, where roles do change, new job opportunities will be filled through the existing open and transparent human resource procedures we are all familiar with.

Please note; this is not a repeat of what I understand to be referred to as the "roundtable" experience a few years back.

The forms which were handed to some management staff in headquarters over the past week, may have triggered fears and anxieties because of previous experiences. I apologies for that.

The intention of those forms is a) to give me a better understanding of your interests and strengths, and b) so that we can do our best over the next year to give you some choice in what you do in the ministry and that you are fulfilled in the work you do. You have my word that names, strengths etc will not be thrown into some pool and managers will ‘pick' who they want. You may feel free to fill in the form or not and you will under no circumstances be penalised or left out because you did not complete it. If anyone would like to have a copy of the form they should request it from their team leader or from Nikki McCallum in my office.

The leadership team and I have had significant discussions and continue to work on the ministry structure as we have yet to resolve every issue. Because this is so important and affects staff and our services we are being thoughtful while moving as quickly as we can. To help us keep to the June 30th deadline, a small task team is refining the draft structure and will bring this back to the leadership team meetings for full approval before I share that information with everyone.

If you have any questions or anxieties about jobs and responsibilities please don't hesitate to talk with your team leaders, and if for any reason you are not able to do that, please contact Patrick Doyle directly or through the generic e-mail (MCF.DeputyMinistersOffice@gov.bc.ca).

Information:

We have collated the information gathered from the various workshops and I am attaching a draft of that document to this email. This will remain a work in progress until the fall as we continue to gather feedback from additional workshops, at both the provincial and regional levels, and from the communications methods I mentioned above.

As we move forward, we will redefine aspects from the current list of comments to actual working components which will assist in guiding our transformation. To that end, this weekend the Leadership Team made an initial attempt at formulating a draft vision statement and set of core values for the ministry. These have been included in the workshop/consultation document attached and any feedback would be appreciated.

Transformation Goals:

There has been some confusion about what is we are try to achieve through transformation and so we have formulated a set of goals which we hope will provide some clarity. These goals are based on directions from the Premier, government's 5 Great Goals, the New Relationship, comments made in planning workshops, and the various external reviews. The goals are not in any order of importance.

* To establish a value/principle-centred ministry that is respected and trusted by the public, service providers, and those whom the ministry serves.
* To ensure a confident, professional, empowered staff
* To ensure a system which is responsive to the needs of children, youth, families and communities
* To prevent the use of unnecessary red-tape, processes, procedures and rules which slow down transferral of resource and effective service delivery.
* To regionalize service delivery
* To ensure Aboriginal services are governed by and delivered to Aboriginal people by Aboriginal people
* To have greater focus on prevention and early intervention services.
* To ensure that importance is given to the full array of multi-disciplinary services to children youth and families
* To ensure effective, innovative, and integrated service delivery to children, youth, families and communities.
* To ensure sufficient human and financial resources for all services
* To ensure the effective management and resourcing of day-to-day service delivery during transformation, ensuring the continued protection and well-being of children and youth.
* To ensure community engagement and the shifting/sharing of power with communities and families with regard to decision-making and service delivery.

Regionalization:

We know that there is a lot of confusion at the moment about regionalization and so some information is obviously needed. Here are some of the details at the moment:

Services will be regionalized over the next four years. Aboriginal services will be prioritized. Work on both non-aboriginal and Aboriginal service devolution will go forward in 2006.

Regionalization is both a process and a goal.

In the context of transformation, we will be re-conceptualizing what we mean by "regionalization". The process is going ahead. The outcome of regionalization is not yet decided and is one of the key processes under development within transformation. The primary principle is to do what is in the best interests of children, youth, families and communities. The goal is to have community engagement; and the devolution of power, decision-making and resources. In addition, we will honour Aboriginal peoples' right to govern and deliver services to their own communities and children.

Aboriginal governance and service delivery is in the hands of the Aboriginal forum or caucus which will include the Aboriginal leadership, delegated agencies, boards, regional coordinators, communities, chiefs and elders, and others. No templates or formula from MCFD are being applied. Legislation for the emerging regional governance structures/authorities will be developed during 2006 by Aboriginal people with the support of the ministry. This partnership is being led by Deb Foxcroft on the MCFD side.

MCFD regional Aboriginal services will continue to operate as they are including working with the Aboriginal transition teams. We will see how this evolves according to the Aboriginal agenda and the ministries transformation.

With regard to non-aboriginal services, we will do everything we can to build on previous plans and work done on regionalization where this work supports the transformation vision and goals.

There will be extensive consultation as we move forward with regionalization in the context of transformation, including with the advisory committee, service providers, ministry staff, academics, other ministries etc.

Leadership Statement:

Finally, the Leadership Team would like to make a commitment to all MCFD staff; we have done this in the form of a statement which will be posted on the intranet and throughout our offices.

I hope you will assist us to live up to this statement, and would ask you to hold us accountable, while at the same time be patient when we make mistakes.

Our practice as leaders will be based on the following values:

* Respect - diversity, inclusive
* Ethical - honesty, integrity, fairness, transparency
* Innovative - flexible, continuous learning, learning organization
* Courageous Leadership
* Value Strengths
* Accountable
* Advocacy for children, youth and families

These values will be demonstrated in practices including:

* Being accessible to our team members
* Regular sharing of all information which should be available for staff.
* Ensuring opportunities for participation in decision-making processes
* Working in teams and respecting each person as of equal importance
* Mutual accountability
* Building and maintaining trusting relationships with our teams
* Openness to our own continuous learning and innovation
* Leading by example
* Consciously recognizing and building on strengths and good practices
* Respecting diversity in culture, traditions, skill, knowledge and experience
* Treating people with respect and dignity
* Encouraging and supporting well-being, including a balanced work/personal life.
* Demonstrating confidence and trust in relation to each staff member's ability to carry out their core tasks effectively
* Demonstrating that people matter more than our own sense of power or position
* Demonstrating that our work and the decisions we make are primarily about the best interests of children, youth and families rather than what is best for the organization or ourselves.
* Managing change carefully and thoughtfully with a commitment to continuous progress and the achievement of the transformation goals in a specific time frame.

In closing, I would like to advise staff that I will be in South Africa from the 9th July until the 6th August. It is probably confusing to people as to why I might be going away so soon after starting my work here. You should know that I am not going on holiday. Coming to undertake this work was very rushed and I am going home to pack up my belongings, sort out personal matters, and say goodbye to family, friends, colleagues, communities and families around the country with whom I worked before coming back to BC for the next four or five years.

Kind regards
Lesley du Toit, Deputy Minister

5 Comments

Deb Foxcroft providing "support"? Evidently she has not read the Deputy Minister's emails about the way in which MCFD staff is to behave because a big message being sent by Deb in the meetings we've had with her is about the cosiderable 'power' she now has.

Not impressed at all. She comes in with preconceived notions and lectures people around the need to develop relationships ( gee whiz??.an idea I would never have thought of? but of course something I would look to South Africa for advice on).

Some of us having been doing this work for 30 years and we know what a team is. cliché³ and changing terminology might have worked in South Africa. But the issues are a little more sophisticated in BC. You know Gordon Campbell decided to develop new governance structures while simultaneously cutting budgets by 23%. People within the system told him you couldn't do this. He would not listen. We have had tragedies as a result. He is responsible for what has happened. Injecting someone from South Africa into our system doesn't absolve him from responsibility. Lesley....is choosing to ignore recommendations from Hughes and is instigated another restructuring. The flow charts she has developed are laughable...no body know what they mean. This train wreck (that we are about experience) is avoidable. It pains me to think that we once again go through restructuring and once again vulnerable children and families will pay the cost.

As long as MCFD's leadership continues to get away with contemplating its collective navel instead of facing the job it is actually tasked with doing, and its massive failures in that regard, the suffering and abuses will continue.

Without the necessary resources and direction, they can turn the Ministry upside down and make the entire staff join hands and sing kumbaya and children will still be left at risk or sent to inappropriate "kith & kin" or foster placements to save money; special needs will go unmet; opportunities for life-changing early intervention will be lost as children languish by the thousands on waitlists; CLBC will continue to push vulnerable adults from their homes to cut costs and families will fall apart under the stress of lifelong care for challenging individuals with zero supports.

The new Deputy is clearly still reading from the Premier's same old failed script, which flows directly from the fervent ideological refusal to accept government having any legitimate role in people's lives. That means studiously ignoring all the problems while working feverishly to pass the buck and diverting attention from the obvious scam going on with erudite discussions of navel lint.

As always, you make some very good points, Dawn. People who have been doing excellent work for many years despite all the problems about which you write, don't appreciate being told that they need to "begin" operating in respectful ways with each other and with the communities they serve.

It is very clear that she is superbly accomplished in talking the talk but walking the walk is another issue alltogether.

Very well said Dawn Steele and very true.

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