The Residential Review Report five years later: new funding, new focus, and new opportunities

Earlier this month in the BC legislature the MCFD Minister was asked about the implementation of the 2012 Residential Review Report that was co-authored by the Ministry and The Federation.

In her response, she mentioned that most of the recommendations have been implemented.

I know that report and its recommendations very well. So do many of you. And as much as I might empathize with MCFD’s many years of flat budgets, I could not help but take particular issue with those comments.

From our perspective, the Residential Review Report isn’t a checklist. It’s a framework for change. The number of boxes that have been ticked doesn’t really matter if kids in care are still killing themselves, still aging out, still losing touch with their heritage, and still falling through the cracks.

Our understanding is that permanency isn’t an item on a to-do list. Permanency is not moving a child to a new group home every year. (Alex Gervais had 17 different placements over 11 years.)

If we really want to fix the system, the goal should not be, “We’ve done all the things on the list.” The goal should be building a system of care that doesn’t drive kids to kill themselves.

The Minister was correct on one point: the Residential Review Report has not been ignored. But that does not mean The Federation is happy with the minimal progress that has been made since 2012. Especially not when the new Representative for Children and Youth Bernard Richard recently suggested that young people like Alex Gervais may still be alive today had more of the recommendations been implemented.

I hope the new money announced in last week’s budget is a sign that the government is ready to start making real, substantial progress on the recommendations in the Residential Review Report.

The government had long claimed to be committed to this work. Last week’s budget has provided an opportunity for our government partners to put those words into action, to renew their focus, and to start making the meaningful, lasting change that is long overdue. And I am looking forward to working closely with our government partners on improving BC’s system of care.

The Federation penned a response to the Minister’s statements made in the house. I feel it is important to make our stance very clear to our members, allies, and our government partners. As such, I encourage you to read the full editorial here.