Foster children 'vulnerable,' auditor general warns
Social Development not doing proper security checks
New Brunswick's auditor general has raised concerns about the safety of foster children.
Kim MacPherson said Social Development isn't doing the proper background security checks. The number of available homes is dropping, she added, which also puts kids at risk.
“In our testing, we found that only two of 20 files examined contained all the documentation, indicating all the standards were in place. And these are the department's standards,” she said.
“These are children that are vulnerable. I am concerned because of what we found.”
The auditor general said available homes slid 41 per cent over an eight-year period. Saint John lost the most.
Money hasn't increased in three years
Mel Kennah has fostered for 25 years and serves as the executive director of Moncton Youth Residences, a program for at-risk youth.
He said compensation has barely budged in that time.
“I suspect foster parents in New Brunswick are compensated at the bottom end of the scale, nation-wide,” he said.
“Younger people are having greater challenges than they were in the 1980s. There are different things that they're coping with. And specifically, I'm underlining the mental health issues. Those are more prevalent, which is causing another strain on the system.”
Social Development said the basic monthly rate for children 11 and older is $878.67 per month. That’s $48 more than in 2001, but it hasn’t risen in three years.
The development won't answer questions about specific cases, such as Donnie Snook, who was found guilty of sex crimes against children, including a foster child in his care.
Social Development said there are 1,000 foster children living in 515 foster homes. The department agreed to act on the auditor general's recommendations.