Canada’s Auditor General found several flaws in Yukon’s child services, including files that were six years out of date, children in foster care who didn’t get regular dental or medical check-ups, and a lack of planning for youth becoming too old for foster care.
Michael Ferguson made five recommendations yesterday to Yukon’s Health and Social Services Department when he presented his report to the legislature.
In Yukon, youth can remain in custody until age 19, and receive transitional support up to age 24, but the department is supposed to begin transitional planning with youth at age 16.
The auditors found records of those plans in only seven of 17 files they examined for youth between the ages of 16 and 21.
“This is a cause for concern, particularly because studies show that many youth who leave foster care have difficulties as they transition to adult life,” Ferguson says.
The report also points out that the government is far behind on its record keeping on children in foster care.
“We did find some files that were six years out of date,” Ferguson said.
Dorothea Warren, assistant deputy minister with the department, says the department doesn’t have enough staff, and that the priority has to be working with children, not paper.
“When staff are covering vacancies, they tend to cover the urgent and emergent, and perhaps defer the documentation.”
The department was using a reporting system that the report describes as notoriously slow.
Warren says Yukon is now launching a new program to keep records.
Lack of doctor, dentist visits
The report also found that many youth in care do not visit a doctor or dentist at least once a year, pointing out that this can have long-term impacts on their health.
“This is particularly true for children in care: research shows that, on average, they have poorer health and are more vulnerable because of their high levels of trauma, stress, uncertainty, and instability,” the report reads.
The government has agreed with the auditor’s recommendations and says it is now reviewing next steps.
In 2011-2012, the Yukon government provided services to 579 families where children were identified with protection concerns, and has 211 children in the department’s care or custody.
The original version of this story inflated the number of recommendations made in the auditor general's report.Jun 11, 2014 12:48 PM CT