Nfld. & Labrador

New steps, contracts for child care services announced

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced the first concrete steps toward better alternatives for the province's child care system.
Minister Paul Davis says the province will focus on ensuring contracts are awarded to the best qualified service providers to obtain the best situations for children. (CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced the first concrete steps toward better alternatives for the province's child care system.

Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Paul Davis said the province will be making changes to the services available to ensure no more children end up living in hotel rooms.

Davis announced contracts for different service providers to take care of children who end up in the government's care.

"The service providers that we've contracted with now have long-standing, solid track records in Newfoundland and Labrador," Davis said.

"They have capacity, they have quality programs, and they're well organized and well positioned to transition to these new contracts."

Tara Laing, chair with Waypoints, one of the organizations awarded a contract on Monday, said the nature of providing care for youth in the province is changing.
Tara Laing, chair at Waypoints, says the organization will continue to work with the 29 youth in their care to get them through their programs, and ensure they are ready to participate in society. (CBC)

"The youth have changed, their requirements have changed. We've done a lot of training, we have national certifications for youth services people, as well as the organization in general, so we've been changing a lot ourselves," Laing said.

Waypoints has 29 youth in their care, and will maintain the care of those individuals under the new contract.

"Our real focus here is to ensure that once they go through our programs that they're well positioned and very much people who are ready to participate," Laing said.

Work in progress

However, NDP MHA Gerry Rogers said there's still some concern that there isn't enough formalized standards for people working in this field.

Rogers said she still has concerns about how the province determines which groups are qualified to take care of these vulnerable youth.
Gerry Rogers says the provincial government still needs to establish set standards to ensure people working with vulnerable youth have the same qualifications across the board. (CBC)

"In the past few years, we've heard such concerns about children in care and that there hasn't been a real comprehensive program that ensures the safety, and also the supports, in place to help these kids really thrive," she said.

"The concerns that I have really are 'what are the standards?' Are there across the board standards for training and for qualifications? We haven't really seen that yet."

Workers in the industry admit that it's a developing field, and establishing a set of standards is still a work in progress.

The contracts awarded run anywhere from one to two-and-a-half years, and are worth a total of $36 million. There are 101 children involved.