Brilliant or bollocks?

Are you a social worker or a former ministry of children and family development employee? If so, British Columbians need your help. As you know, the ministry is in the midst of a massive effort to overhaul the way children are protected in this province. But details are few and far between. And its architect, the ministry's top bureaucrat Lesley du Toit, has refused to give children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond any further personal briefings about that effort. So this is where you come in. Last year, Ms. du Toit provided the representative with a series of PowerPoint presentations about her so-called practice change initiative. At the time, Ms. du Toit acknowledged "these (background) materials were developed some time ago" - with the most recent of them being dated February 18, 2009. Nevertheless, it's what we've got to work with. So we'd like you to take a look at that presentation, which was obtained via a freedom of information request, and tell us what you think. Is it brilliant or bollocks? You can email us in confidence or leave a comment below.


I am curious why this couldn't have been disclosed in original PowerPoint format. Sometimes w/ the graphics whizes (sp?) or not-so-wizards the print can get hard to read.

The assessment framework cites several ``tools`` for consideration to get an assessment done on a child welfare issue in accordance with MCFD's new practice frameworks, including the North Carolina family assessment scale:

In reviewing this scale and the subsequent report found ``online`` The North Carolina assessment tool is not culturally sensitive to Aboriginal people this is likely because the North Carolina assessment tool is developed in the South, not developed with Canadian or Aboriginal cultural or familial values and has impact on the integrity of the tool or its application to social work practice in Canada. Duh! How about hiring some Canadian social workers with a specialization in Aboriginal social work issues to put together a Canadian version of this or even better to create something based on Gove, Hughes and the many other "reviews" done of social work and the Ministry based on Canadian perspectives!

One example from the North Carolina assessment tool that suggests this as one of the elements of the suggested practice tools would not be effective.

The Family interactions (Section C) includes assessment on whether family members help each other willingly. In Aboriginal families people may be overwhelmed with their own familial issues because of the overwhelming impact of history of residential school and its subsequent impact on Aboriginal people. The people being assessed on this scale will have that community or family weakness marked against them in a risk assessment meanwhile they may be ``coping`` without their family support and be utilizing other support. In addition, the family interactions does not include any recognition of cultural strengths or indicators to be assessed as identified in the practice framework as the new child protection practice frame work claims to bring changes to the social work practice file that are in alignment with cultural sensitivity of Aboriginal people. This is directly against recommendation 30 of the Hughes report which says: That the Ministry develop processes for resolving complaints by Aboriginal children, youth and families that incorporate and respect traditional values and approaches to conflict resolution.

In addition, the North Carolina family assessment scale requires that workers be ``very familiar` with the family to be successful. If it is used by child protection intake workers they will not have ``worked`` with the family in any length and may not know the family at all and therefore any assessment done using this model with a family will be based in part on guesswork. In addition, Hughes called for a ``simple`` approach that is ``problem solving`` that involves the parties in resolving the issues, the use of one of the tools of assessment for the service delivery being the North Carolina assessment is not that, it involves intensive knowledge of the family and is not child centred or culturally sensitive to Canada`s needs or the needs of Aboriginal people.

So if this is all MCFD can come up with, in short, its pretty pathetic. How about they stop overpaying the bureaucrats and stop paying for helicopter rides and start paying for assessments based on what Gove, Hughes and others have so meticulously set out and yet the Province still struggles and "adopts" something not even crafted for Canada's unique child welfare issues affecting Aboriginal people? Can the huge "think tanks" not think rather than just borrow something from anywhere that does not require input or new ideas?

Having been a foster parent for 20 years as well as a social worker, Team Leader and Manager in MCFD, this is just one more turn in the 30 cycle of protecting children. What it isn't is innovative. This is purely a cost saving measure to reduce the cost of an ineffective and costly system that has never been held to task and made to work properly. The system in BC is so incredibly rich, with both excellent staff and resources, and so ineptly managed. I have worked in the system that Ms du Toit proposes. It was the late '70s and early '80s and they want their lack of focus on protecting kids, staff confusion and tie dyed view of the world back.
The problem I have is the wasted time and energy and the loss of commitment by staff. The transformation process engaged numerous community members - only to be discarded and ignored. Ms du Toit's inability to understand the province, the Ministry and the communities has wasted 6 years of potential change and growth. What we have is an incredibly fragmented community, service providers horribly entrenched in the trough of government and a workforce that has no idea where they are headed.
Now she is personally teaching this practice shift. Imagine the Deputy Attorney General teaching lawyers how to modernize the courts, the Deputy Minister of Health redesigning how hospitals are run. She must have amazing skills and no one else in the Ministry must be able to be trusted (have a look at how much blood has been let from MCFD) to implement this amazing new approach. Eventually the smoke and mirrors will be shown and once again, with numerous children dead, the Ministry will "transfigure" again. (I am looking for a new term for reorganize).
Creating clear expectations for staff, creating real structures for accountability and looking at root causes (Substance use, poverty and violence) would go a long way to solving the problems that Ms du Toit seems to have overlooked.

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