Time Bandits

Earlier, we reported Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen acknowledged his deputy's good practice action plan "contains unrealistic timelines." This, according to minutes from First Call's last meeting. And it turns out the minister isn't alone in that opinion. Back in September, the Federation of Children and Family Services provided the ministry with a response to that plan. And, in that response, the federation noted its members "have commented on the ambitious scope of, and short timeframes attached to, the action plan."

"While there is strong support for taking action to continually improve and enhance the systems of care, much of the work appears to be slated for completion within 6 months and the entire plan is to be competed within 15 months. Is there sufficient capacity to achieve these plans while simultaneously ensuring that adequate care is provided to children and youth? How will these changes be achieved, within the proposed timeframes, without negatively disrupting the lives of the children, youth and families that we jointly care for and about? Concerns about the timeframes and access to financial and human resources have lead people to question the "doability" of the plan and wonder when implementation plans will be developed and who will inform these plans?" The following is a complete copy of the relevant portion of that document.

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Timelines and capacity:
Federation members have commented on the ambitious scope of, and short timeframes attached to, the action plan. While there is strong support for taking action to continually improve and enhance the systems of care, much of the work appears to be slated for completion within 6 months and the entire plan is to be competed within 15 months. Is there sufficient capacity to achieve these plans while simultaneously ensuring that adequate care is provided to children and youth? How will these changes be achieved, within the proposed timeframes, without negatively disrupting the lives of the children, youth and families that we jointly care for and about?

Concerns about the timeframes and access to financial and human resources have lead people to question the "doability" of the plan and wonder when implementation plans will be developed and who will inform these plans? Are there some areas of action that are of higher priority than others and will some actions precede others? Federation members have suggested that the plan would be enhanced by some commentary about the process for developing implementation plans and identifying priorities and sequential or contingent actions. The Federation members also believe that the community service sector must be integrally involved in the transformative work and supported to deliver the daily care during the transition process. The Federation is very willing to facilitate and support the participation of community based agencies in the planning process with the intention that this will add to the overall capacity of the system to achieve the plan.

Many of the initiatives listed require substantial funding. Whether, for example, mounting new Aboriginal authorities, undertaking continuous research, implementing pilot projects, evaluating all programs and policies, increasing foster care rates, improving post-adoption support, implementing more youth development and crime prevention initiatives, implementing a post-majority program, or developing a new electronic integrated case management system, new funding will be required. What are the options should sufficient funding not be available to achieve these actions. What role might the community services sector play to raise awareness about the need for adequate financial capacity?

1 Comment

Priority Action #3 involves completing "a situational analysis and cost analysis of service delivery, including gaps in service delivery and waitlist issues" by March 2008.

As much as we'd all love to see that happen, MCFD and CLBC have been telling me and other parent advocates for years now that they're working to try to confirm what the waitlists are, at least with regard to services for children & youth with special needs.

The problem is, they're still not even clear about who is providing what services to children & youth with special needs, despite years of also talking about improved cross-Ministry integration and coordination, as evidenced by Priority Action #11, also due by March 2008, which is to "develop inventory of existing cross government CYSN services and identify gaps or areas for improved co-ordination."

[CYSN is bureaucratese for children and youth with special needs.]

Hopefully, we may eventually see something, anything, in the way of actual improvements to the current dire situation facing families and "CYSNs", in keeping with the Premier's Great Goal #3 ("to build the best system of support for...those with special needs") before the Golden Decade is over.

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