Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
October 10, 2012 permalink
Alberta has a new watchdog, Del Graff, responsible for reporting on deaths in the province's foster care system. In his first four months on the job he has started no investigations.
No reviews from Alberta’s youth advocate since being given investigative powers
CALGARY — Alberta’s child and youth advocate has yet to launch an investigative review since being given the authority earlier this year to probe deaths and serious injuries of children in provincial care.
While critics question Del Graff’s willingness to take on the government that appointed him, he said Wednesday some cases may yet be subject to public review once his office has had a chance to examine them further.
“We’ve not publicized our intention around investigative reviews,” he said during a meeting with the Herald’s editorial board.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not doing them.”
Changes in legislation in earlier this year made the child and youth advocate an independent officer of the legislature who reports directly to members of the assembly.
Although Alberta was the first province to appoint a children’s advocate in 1989, the position previously reported directly to a cabinet minister.
The new legislation means Graff, whose five-year term began in June 2011, now has the authority to launch investigative reviews aimed at examining whether systemic issues have a role in any deaths and injuries involving children in care.
Graff’s office also provides one-on-one advocacy for youths in the child welfare system and legal intervention for all young people involved with the justice system, whether or not they are in provincial care.
The child and youth advocate’s office has 57 employees and an $11 million operating budget this year.
The office recently launched a series of meetings with youths between 17 and 21 years old designed to improve services for young people who leave government care.
“The best way to do this is to go to them and talk about that,” Graff said.
The advocate’s office is holding 15 focus groups throughout the province.
Graff said he hopes to issue a report on the issue in early 2013, composed of the focus group findings, advice from front-line workers and additional research by his office.
But NDP human services critic Rachel Notley said the child and youth advocate should be taking a more detailed look at services for children who leave government care when they reach adulthood.
“It’s a gargantuan gap,” said Notley.
“That’s something serious he should be calling the government to task on, instead of doing focus groups.”
Source: Calgary Herald