The lives of some of B.C.'s most vulnerable children are at risk because the Ministry of Children and Family Development lacks an effective addictions strategy, according to a report from B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth released today.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond concludes a child's safety must trump the desire to keep the family together.

The report reviewed the case of a 10-year-old boy who suffered permanent injuries in a car accident with his drug-addicted mother and her alcohol-addicted boyfriend. The boy was not supposed to be with his mother unsupervised, but social workers and family members didn't enforce that safety plan.

Turpel-Lafond believes Children and Family Development can better protect children from drug or alcohol-addicted parents.

“With the level of addictions that we experience in this province, this is an area that is long overdue for improvement,“ says Turpel-Lafond.

According to the report, ministry workers estimate 70 per cent of their cases include substance-abusing mothers.

The representative's recommendations include having substance abuse specialists available in each of the ministry's service areas, assessing the capacity of family members to care for children, and offering priority addictions treatment for parents.

Turpel-Lafond says the Ministry for Children and Family Development needs a major policy overhaul when it comes to how it deals with drug-addicted parents and their children.

“Parental addiction is a serious problem because it can leave vulnerable children in incredibly harmful situations,” Turpel-Lafond said in a written statement.

Turpel-Lafond says it's time for the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice to also step up to create a comprehensive addiction treatment strategy.

With files from Lisa Cordasco