Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Response To The Ministry Of Child And Family Development's Statement Regarding Gifts For Children



Update Wed, 5:30pm : Please see a statement to MCFD staff, apparently from Doug Hughes, Provincial Director of Child Welfare and Bev Dicks, ADM Service Delivery, in the comments...My initial impression is that, while the position of the Ministry has been refined, my original direct question about a previous longstanding practice has still not been specifically answered...

Latest Update, 8:00am Thurs Dec 20th

Yesterday, in response to detailed information I received from a reader about a potential change to a longstanding practice at the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), I asked the following question of the Minister responsible and/or her boss:

Question #1: Have social workers in the MCFD been told they are not allowed to purchase Christmas gifts for the children and youth in government care? 

After a whole lot of follow-up, including Yaila Yuile's direct enquiries, the Ministry released a statement that began like this:

"Any claim that the ministry will not be supplying Christmas gifts for children in care is absolutely inaccurate and it is very concerning that this erroneous message was sent to a client. In fact, social workers are encouraged to ensure every child and youth in care receives gifts during the holiday season..."


Notice that this did not answer my question.


Because, while 'encouragement' can be very helpful when there is another willing adult in the child's life, it is not the same as allowing the social workers to actually purchase a gift for the child if there is no such willing adult in the picture.


What about Part 2 of the Ministry's response:

"...Funding to cover gifts for children and youth in care is built-in to monthly payments the ministry sends to foster parents..."


This is strange because, based on the detailed information I received from our very knowledgable reader, I made it very clear that we were EXCLUDING kids in Foster care when we asked our question.

So, how about the third and final part of the Ministry's response:

"...For children and youth living independently or on Youth Agreements, ministry staff are authorized and encouraged to ensure those young people are remembered over the holidays and gifts are provided."


There's that term 'encouraged' again. But, to be fair, there is also the term 'authorized'.

But here's the thing.....

The term 'social worker' (ie. the front-line folks I asked about specifically in my question) is no longer there. Instead, the new term that has been inserted is 'Ministry Staff'.


Now, why does any of this matter?

Because in many cases it is the front-line social workers who the only folks who are able to build any kind of direct adult relationship with these kids. Which means that they very likely know best what the kids' needs, wants and interests are.

Thus, in my opinion, they (i.e. the social workers) should be the ones making the purchases and giving the gifts.

And, to my understanding this has been a longterm, not to mention sensible practice, at the MCFD that does not cost a lot of money given that the understood maximum amount per child was $50.

And please remember that, originally, this was all raised in the context of budget-cutting at the MCFD given the government's other spending 'priorities' at the moment


Interestingly, there has been a bit of a backlash, particularly on Twitter, about the fact I even asked this question (as well as a direct follow-up question as well that you can find in the original post, here) and that others in the bloggosphere, including Ian Reid, Norm Farrell, Paul Willcocks, NVG and Laila, then commented on it.


Well, as near as I can figure it, it is all being dismissed as 'irresponsible' blogger blather.

But here's the thing...

My reader is not the only person who has brought up this matter to the fore.

Specifically, a second source sent Laila an Email that, at least in part (and, albeit with much broader strokes), corroborates what my reader had to say.

The text of that Email, with identifying addresses, etc., removed, goes like this:


Sent: December-03-12 3:03 PM


Please be advised that due to cutbacks, MCFD will not be supplying Christmas gifts for children in care.

As parents and extended family, you are still expected to provide a gift for your child if you wish to do so.

Thank you.

XXXXXXX XXXXXXX Child Protection Social Worker

Ministry of Children and Family Development "

So, in the face of material, some of it written, from two independent sources, is it still irresponsible to continue to ask the original question?

Oh, and for the record, Laila and I have heard from a third source that yes, indeed, it has been a longstanding practice for social workers to purchase small gifts for the kids concerned...So...To return to the heart of the matter once more, has that longstanding practice been changed to 'save money'?



Anonymous said...

Seems like the 'shorting' in the MCFD maybe to cover the quarter million plus for The Not premier's charter travels.

RossK said...

Excellent point Anon--

And did you notice who got most of that money that could have gone, instead, to kids in care?


The office of the Provincial Director of Child Welfare said...

We just want to ensure you are aware the following email was issued to MCFD staff today:

Dear Colleagues,
You may be aware that there are reports in social media that the Ministry will not be supplying Christmas gifts to children in care. This is not accurate and there has been no change to the current practice regarding gifts for children and youth in care. We would like to clarify the use of some discretionary funding for children in the care of the director under the Child, Family and Community Service Act.

The vast majority of our children in care are placed with foster care families and part of the maintenance payment they receive from the ministry is to cover presents for events and milestones in the child or youth’s life which would include holiday gifts.

For those children and youth where this is not the case then the child/youth worker has the ability and is encouraged to purchase a small gift. As has been the case in previous years, this purchase would be under the umbrella of recognizing milestones and other important events for a child or youth where the purchases of small gifts are allowed up to a maximum yearly amount of $100 per child or youth.

We would appreciate your assistance in reviewing this with your Community Service Managers, Team Leaders and Social Workers who are responsible for providing services to children and youth in care.

Doug Hughes
Provincial Director of Child Welfare

Bev Dicks
ADM Service Delivery

RossK said...

Thanks very much Anon--


There is a $100 maximum for the entire year?


Previously did this $100 include the specific purchase of a present for the Christmas holiday season of up to $50 by the child/youth (and/or social?) worker?

I ask this, specifically, because the latter is the matter that was raised with me.


Laila said...

Well done to see this 'clarification'.

I look forward to your dissection on this RossK.

Especially since the clarification goes specifically to kids not yet in foster homes... just as your source indicated.

. We would like to clarify the use of some discretionary funding for children in the care of the director under the Child, Family and Community Service Act. "



Don F. said...

$100 dollars per year, well let's see that would buy them a baseball bat for their birthday and let's be generous and say a golfball for christmas,that is assuming no cards or other extravagences! just so they turn out to be well adjusted adults who in turn contribute back to society.
Of course this is all subject to how many trips to china our non premier need to take in the upcoming year. Shame!!!!!!

Canadianbud said...

I agree Don F.
It's a tragic shame. Doesn't anyone in the MCFD know what the price of toys is like, everything needing batteries etc? 100$ ??
Really? For all the child's "milestones" there's a $100 built into the care-giver payments. Meanwhile ministry staff drink $16 glasses of juice (oda.. different ministry, but shows intent of the ministers) and jet-set to China with family and have a jolly old time.
It's always Christy first.. and her new comrade friends, and it's like she's said to hell with BC as Harpers already got the holes drilled to screw us, she's just following his lead.

Willy Ens said...

Eh Canadianbud I think you hit it right on the head!
"It's always Christy first.. and her new comrade friends, and it's like she's said to hell with BC as Harpers already got the holes drilled to screw us, she's just following his lead."
I know Christy as BC 'Faulty' ... "Premier by Default"

Because going by my experience and ... so sadly because I naively believed her and her yet to be 'worn thin lie' of "Families First in BC"
Part of my experience?
I am a sixty year old man Homeless, Broke, and destitute while 'Cute Christy Clark continues consternation of this canuck at Christmas'

While my offer of saving $2.25 million a year on this continuing $10 million a year is shelved, (Read it here; )
I first offered my help in this to Christy Clark on March 3 2011 to which she responded with this;

From: Christy Clark campaign
Sent: Friday, March 4, 2011 12:30:26 PM
Subject: Re: New Message from Premier Designate website

Dear Willy

These are exciting times for British Columbia as we change the way
government works and focus on reconnecting with the public. I want to
encourage a real, two-way dialogue between residents and government
and ensure good ideas find their way to Victoria.

Thank-you for your contribution on how we can improve government and I
want you to know your voice will be heard. After a new cabinet is
sworn-in, I will forward your email to the appropriate minister and
they will respond to your email.

Again, thank-you for taking the time to offer your ideas, as it plays
a pivotal part of building a stronger British Columbia for families
across the province.

Christy Clark

Sadly ... just another lie as she keeps proving this to me ...

But keep this in mind;


One Crusty Canuck (or just a / Caring Canadian)