The BC Liberals continue to raise concerns about the lack of oversight and protection of vulnerable children and youth in government-contracted group homes, as dates of a public inquest into the tragic death of Traevon Desjarlais are announced by the BC Coroners Service.
“The independent Representative for Children and Youth says what happened to Traevon is a ‘canary in the coal mine’ and that things have gotten worse, not better,” said Karin Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal Critic for Children and Family Development.
“Numerous reports — including by the Auditor General in 2019 — have found serious flaws in the oversight of contracted services. While the NDP promised to fix the system, troubling audit results and the cancellation of a review by Ernst and Young related to contracted care homes raises further questions that must be answered by this NDP government.”
A 2019 government statement in response to the Auditor General’s report highlighted this review, but the contract was abruptly cancelled mere months before Traevon died due to “expenditure management”, according to a January 2020 briefing note for the minister. A recent audit pointed out that the contracted agencies’ compliance rate for contact with children and youth was only seven per cent and that there was no contact with youth for twelve months a shocking 30 per cent of the time, in complete violation of the policy.
“Not only has MCFD cancelled a review of its contract and procurement management practices, the Ministry has failed to meet the basic requirement to ensure each child and youth has been seen and their homes visited within the past three months by social workers,” added Kirkpatrick. “A seven per cent compliance rate under this government’s watch is totally unacceptable. Immediate action must be taken to address this lack of oversight because no children should be allowed to live in such extreme risks.”