Academic concerns

The ministry of children and family development wasn't the only public institution that got a thrashing in child protection watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's most recent report - Amanda, Savannah, Rowen and Serena: From Loss to Learning. In that report, Ms. Turpel-Lafond states, "It was strongly hoped that the establishment of a social work program at the University of Northern British Columbia would significantly improve the recruitment and retention of well-trained staff. The results have apparently been mixed, with some new graduates leaving the Ministry after a year or two of employment...If better results are to be achieved in the system of supports and services for vulnerable children, then more careful monitoring and evaluation is required of the placement of graduates, program content, and human resource issues." But the program's chair doesn't seem to be in much of a rush to respond to those concerns.

In an interview with Public Eye, Dawn Hemingway stated, "I would actually prefer to go back and look at the comments in context before I respond. It just has not been possible for me to do that at this point. So I would really prefer to be able to do that before I responded just to see what she was saying around that and maybe actually give her a call myself. So, at this point, I would prefer to actually get back to you at a later date." And when will that later date be? "It could be next week. As I say, I'm in the middle of two days of hiring now. And then I'm heading to Toronto. But I will try to do that and see if I can get to that and connect with her myself."

Public Eye had placed a message with Ms. Hemingway on Monday, notifying her we would be seeking a response to Ms. Turpel-Lafond's concerns.


Well of course she would be busy hiring to speak to you! After all, the new employees are leaving government in droves.


I'm not sure that it's fair to actually fault, or be critical, of any of the schools that place students in MCFD. Being a student and then going through the laborious process of being hired, trained and then getting onto the frontlines and then actually having to work in that incredibly toxic, dysfunctional and disturbing organization is itself enough to make anyone quit. People have free will and seek employment with MCFD out of necessity and out of a sincere desire to help people. Unless you've actually worked in the system, most people will never even remotely understand the traumatizing and damaging nature of the organization. I've never met a student, or new social worker who thought, hey, I want to join MCFD and do really crappy work. But that's inevitably what takes place, as they take over caseloads of burnt out workers or ones that have sat uncovered, sometimes for months at a time. And they work beside other workers who are in the same space. It's all 100% crisis-driven work and that in addition to the traumatizing nature of the actual work (day in day out seeing the worst that life has to give innocent young children and many times, their parents), managers who are often inexperienced, ill-trained and sometimes just plain stupid & incompetent it is no doubt that people leave after a year, or two. Many are too ill to continue and for their own survival and well-being must leave. I fail to see how the educational institutions could be responsible for those organizational losses.

It would be an interesting study for universities to complete pre-& post MCFD student placement interviews. And then interview students who go on to be hired at year 1 and year 2 and if they make it, year 3. There would be some remarkable and very, very sad results that would come out of that. The system is very, very broken and the "leadership" seems patently unable to make it any better. Since many of the "leaders" in it have never actually worked in the BC system, they don't even have a basic understanding of the problems and gods forbid someone might mention anything "negative" or make suggestions for improvements. Off with their heads if they do. Bullying, harassment & discrimination are also rampant across the BC public service. When you have a system of drones at the bottom, who will never have any other career opportunities, a bunch of ruthlessly ambitious, not terribly bright, or skilled people who are trying to make it to middle-management and then stay there, you're just bound to have a lot of problems. Across the board it's a sick & toxic organization.

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