The Yukon government has been forced over the past year to rely on local bed and breakfasts to house youth in government care, after the beds in group homes have filled up.
Pat Living, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services, confirmed that “within the past year, Family and Children’s Services has occasionally used local B&Bs; to house youth coming in to care, on a very short-term basis, when we have been short on appropriate placements.”
Bed and breakfasts had not been used previously, she said.
Living said the B&Bs; have been used less than five times, for stays that are usually around four days long, until a more appropriate spot can be found. They have been used to house youth 13 years or older, she said.
There are no youth currently staying at B&Bs;, she said.
“When children and youth come into care, they typically don’t do so in a planned way, so on occasion we don’t have enough beds,” she said.
“So the use of B&Bs; has been a very deliberate choice on our part because it provides a more home-like atmosphere until an alternative is available.”
Living said the youth living at the bed and breakfasts have a worker that stays with them.
“In the same way that they would have a worker if they were in a group home or that they would have staff around them in a group home, they would be accompanied in the B&B when they’re there,” she said.
The youth still go to school and participate in any of the planned activities they would be a part of if they were living in a group home.
There are currently six group homes in the territory. Living didn’t know how many beds that is.
As for whether or not using bed and breakfasts is a sign that there needs to be a new group home in the territory, Living would only say that the department is monitoring the situation.
“We are aware of it. We’re looking at it. But in all honestly, it could be an anomaly as well.”
According to Living, the government pays the local bed and breakfasts “the regular B&B rate based on the normal occupancy.” She didn’t say how much that is.
Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham could not be reached it time for today’s deadline.
Cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman said the minister is aware of the situation in regard to B&B usage and “the need for development of an additional group home facility is currently being examined.”
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