Broken Promises: Parents Speak About BC’s Child Welfare System

Pivot Report Finds Kids Lost in Child Protection System

Vancouver, February 20–The plight of British Columbia’s poorest children is the focus of Pivot Legal Society’s new report, Broken Promises: Parents Speak about B.C.’s Child Welfare System. Based on interviews and affidavits from service providers, social workers, lawyers and, in particular, parents whose children are or have been involved with the child protection system, the report depicts a short-sighted, crisis driven child protection system.

The report finds that children are all too often apprehended as the first form of intervention—even where there are less disruptive alternatives that could keep them safe. And many children are left lingering in care, cut off from family, community and cultural roots.

These current child protection practices violate the guiding and service delivery principles that are set out in the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s own Child Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA), the foundation of the child protection system. The CFCSA mandates: using the least disruptive intervention, apprehending children only as a last resort, and reunifying families as quickly as possible.

“We cannot continue to think that putting kids in care is the solution for families who need help and support,” says report author and Pivot lawyer Lobat Sadrehashemi. “Taking children into government care in order to ensure their safety and well-being is not working. The state is a poor parent and outcomes for children coming out of the foster care system are devastating.”

Aboriginal children and families are particularly devastated. “The child protection system continues to fail Aboriginal families,” says the executive director of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society Penny Irons. “The current child welfare system is just another version of the residential school system.” Aboriginal children are nearly ten times more likely to be in care than non-Aboriginal children. Less than 16 percent of these children are placed with an Aboriginal caregiver.

Samantha, a 34-year-old aboriginal mother of two, feels that her aboriginal roots and her own history of growing up in foster care was the basis for her children being apprehended. She explains,

“I feel like the Ministry is using my history against me. I have been working consistently. I do not have a drinking or drug problem. I have worked so hard to ensure that my children grow up in a healthy and loving home. Yet my children were still taken from me by the Ministry.”

“Perhaps the most disturbing finding,” says Darcie Bennett, co-author of the report and sociology PHD candidate, “is that 65 percent of the parents that took part in this study spent time in the foster care system themselves as children. If we don’t invest in providing families with the support they need to care for their kids in the home and break this cycle we can only expect to see more and more children lost in the system.”

About Pivot Legal Society

Pivot’s mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such as opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.

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2 thoughts on “Broken Promises: Parents Speak About BC’s Child Welfare System

  1. iam a single mom and live in trail bc and have been fighting for the return of my two children for three years i have no family here to help me and my brother has been trying to have my girls sent back to ontario since feb/06 i have been in court since may 06 with case comfrince adjournments almost every month to have my lawyer only meet with me once out of three years except when im to be in Court to have her this november close my case with legal aid without my knowledge. i have all my freedom of information from Mcfd and mental health & addiction . that show conflicts in paper work timelines that don’t jive lies and doctored paper work etc. i have done everything i have been asked and been honest with everything and im on a disability so i am limited with funds i don’t trust my worker or any of the support s in this town as i have FOIPPA that backs the factors in my mistrust i would love any help with anything i have mentioned thx jen

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