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August 11, 2009 permalink
Manitoba is undergoing a foster care panic, increasing the number of children taken from their parents and held in foster care. Since foster care is far more hazardous than parental care, this will produce increased levels of child abuse in the province.
Number of kids seized from Man. parents rises
By Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, August 11, 2009 7:01 AM
OTTAWA — The number of Manitoba kids in care has jumped 10 per cent in the year since the provincial government changed its law in an attempt to make sure nothing trumps safety in determining what is best for a child.
As of March 31, 2009, there were 8,629 children in care in Manitoba, up 792 kids, or 10.1 per cent over the same date the year before.
It is the largest single increase in one year in the past decade, a significant climb for a system that has seen the number of kids in care jump every year but one since at least 1999.
Claudia Ash-Ponce, executive director of the province's Child Protection Branch, said there has been an increased level of vigilance by social workers since the provincial government amended the Child and Family Services Act last year.
"Our system is cautious and is being increasingly cautious," said Ash-Ponce. "We are working with children's safety being paramount."
The amendments ensured considerations of culture and family ties should only be looked at after the safety of a child has been assessed and used as the determining factor on whether the child should be taken into care or not. Before, safety was just one of a number of factors being considered.
In addition to the number of kids in care, there are 9,898 families being monitored by child-welfare authorities, meaning social workers are visiting children still living with their families to ensure their safety and working with parents to improve family life and children's well being.
That number is also up over 10 per cent, an increase of 924 families in one year.
Manitoba's child-welfare system has been under the microscope in the last several years after several high-profile cases of kids being murdered when the system was supposed to be protecting them.
Since the deaths, the system has repeatedly been scrutinized, and serious problems have been uncovered in a number of child-welfare agencies. The province's children's advocate conducted several major investigations and made hundreds of recommendations for improvements including better funding, better staffing and better standards to assess the risk of a child.
Four agencies are still undergoing operational, financial or other reviews for accusations of financial mismanagement, lack of adherence to standards and poor decision-making practices.
The province is also still waiting for a new funding agreement with Ottawa, which is responsible for aboriginal kids living on reserves.
But the federal government only spends about 78 cents for every dollar spent by the province on child welfare for non-aboriginal children and aboriginal kids living off reserves.