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The Department is not fulfilling some key responsibilities to children and families
Whitehorse, 18 February 2014—While the Yukon Department of Health and Social Services meets many requirements of the Child and Family Services Act, it does not adequately fulfill several of its key responsibilities for the protection and well-being of at-risk children, youth, and their families, says Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada, in his report presented today to the Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
“The Child and Family Services Act requires that the best interests of the child be given utmost consideration in making decisions or taking any action under the Act,” said Mr. Ferguson. “While the Department of Health and Social Services is meeting many requirements of the Act, we also noted that it needs to improve in several key areas.”
The audit found that the Department involves First Nations as required under the Act, and it develops plans for most families and children when it receives reports of children needing protection. However, most of these plans were not reviewed and updated as required under the Act. In addition, the Department did not ensure that all children in its care or custody received annual medical and dental examinations, or that foster homes were reviewed annually. These requirements are intended to ensure the safety, well-being, and long-term health of children in care.
The audit also noted weaknesses in performance measurement, data collection, and information analysis. This affects the Department’s ability to produce annual reports as required under the Act, and to improve programs and services as necessary. Further, while the Department has produced a draft of its first annual report as required under the Act, the draft is descriptive in nature and has little performance information.
“Addressing the problems we found will allow the Department to measure, monitor, and assess performance and outcomes so that it can better help at-risk children,” said Mr. Ferguson.
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The report Yukon Family and Children’s Services is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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