MLA Nicholas Simons – Some thoughts about the troubling adoption case involving the Metis toddler.
QUESTIONS RAISED BY METIS ADOPTION CASE
The un-named 2 ½ year old Metis child who has lived with the same couple since birth, will not be moved by MCFD to an adoptive family in Ontario where her two siblings live, for now.
This case raises many questions, and here are two:
- Why has it taken 2 ½ years to place a child who has been in Ministry care since birth, with her two sisters?
2. How can the Ministry move a 2 ½ year old, who has been in their foster home since birth, to Ontario?
British Columbia has fewer social workers today than it had in 2002. It might be only part of the problem, but it’s one big part of the problem.
According to Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, MCFD purposefully used staff vacancies “to make ends meet”. Speaking about her report the Thin Front Line in the Vancouver Sun, the Representative likened our child welfare system to an under-funded fire department “that can only extinguish one blaze a day, no matter how many buildings are burning” (Vancouver Sun, October 9, 2015). When resources are scarce within a Ministry, resources are allocated to deal with the emergencies only.
According to the Plecas Report our child welfare system is short between 250 to 300 full-time MCFD social workers. Out of a workforce of about approximately 1,300. Left: Bob Plecas.
None of this helps the child now. When the plan was first made, it probably made sense for the child to live with their siblings. Presumably everyone had agreed to the same plan for the two older children. But now that time has passed, the best interests of this child have obviously changed.
If the Ministry and/or the adoptive family in Ontario changes their minds, or the Court orders that the child must remain in B.C., the public should demand, and the Ministry should commit to facilitating, supporting, and otherwise providing resources for this child to maintain all family ties, both natural and adoptive.
If the court upholds the Ministry’s original plan resulting in the child moving to Ontario to live with her sisters, then the current caregivers must be given the opportunity to care for the child throughout the entire transition period, including pre-placement visits; they should design a plan for future and regular contact, and provide support to all parties to make this transition as seamless as possible under the circumstances. Metis cultural ties should be maintained and strengthened.
The Ministry will cite “privacy” to avoid talking about this case. But this is really about government’s distorted priorities and under-funding that began in 2002 and continues to this day.
Addendum: The Minister will say they are hiring 100 new workers. Not only is this less than half of what BC needs, we have to remember that the Representative discovered that the last time the Ministry claimed to have hired 100 new workers, it was found that 91 had left during the same period. MCFD needs a good recruitment and retention plan, but his requires political will.