Yukon child welfare must do better: auditor general

The Yukon government is failing to fulfill some of its key responsibilities for the protection of at-risk children and families, according to a new auditor general's report.

The Yukon government is failing to fulfill some of its key responsibilities for the protection of at-risk children and families, according to a new auditor general’s report.

Child and Family Services failed in most cases to regularly update the individual plans that guide social workers when working with a child or a family, as is required by policy and legislation, the report found.

“The department developed case plans for families and plans of care for children, but it did not review and update most of these plans,” said Ronnie Campbell, assistant auditor general of Canada, at a news conference Tuesday.”

“Without updated plans, the department does not know whether plans are being implemented as intended or whether plans are addressing children’s and families’ needs. These documents are one of the department’s main means of ensuring that it is looking after the best interests of the children, a matter of paramount importance.”

The department also is not doing enough to ensure children in care have access to annual medical and dental check-ups, according to the report.

Of the cases reviewed, 63 per cent had received a medical exam in the past year and 52 per cent had been to the dentist.

Child and Family Services also failed in most cases to develop a transitional plan for youth ages 16 to 19 to ease them into their adult lives.

“This is cause for concern, particularly since studies show that many youth who leave foster care have difficulties as they make the transition to adult life,” said Campbell.

The department also failed to conduct annual reviews of foster homes in most cases.

Staff from Child and Family Services identified two main challenges in completing their duties, said Campbell.

The first is recruiting and keeping social workers in Yukon communities.

Between March 2010 and March 2013 several communities went at least a year without a permanent social worker.

Another challenge is the out-of-date software the department uses to track cases.

The DOS-based Client Index System has been in use since 1999.

Staff said that in rural communities it can take up to 20 minutes for the system to accept a keystroke, and many simply do not use it because it is so slow, according to the report.

Because the software is used inconsistently, the department does not have reliable data for reporting purposes.

Child and Family Services has agreed to all of the auditor general’s recommendations, including upgrading its case management software.

“We realize we have some problems and we’re going to work on those right away,” said Doug Graham, minister of health and social services.

The next step will be for the department to come up with an action plan and timelines to achieve those goals, he said.

“It’s going to take an effort on the department’s behalf. We’re going to have to work on implementation of a new computerized system in some form, that’s for sure. We’re going to have to work on reviewing and updating case plans because obviously that’s something we have to do.”

The department should be able to achieve those goals at existing staffing and budget levels, he said.

“We have adequate resources to get the job done.”

Overall the staff do a great job and work hard to meet the department’s goals, he said.

“I have a great deal of faith in them.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read