Child and Youth Advocate releases mandatory reviews concerning nine young people
September 21, 2021
Themes of family violence, importance of cultural connections, need to support for young people transitioning out of government care
Edmonton…The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released reviews into the circumstances of nine young people who passed away between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
The mandatory reviews includes three new recommendations:
- The Ministries of Children’s Services and Justice and Solicitor General should develop a protocol that requires Child Intervention Services be informed prior to the release of an individual who has been incarcerated for family violence where the family was involved with Child Intervention Services.
- The Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General should reassess the risk offenders pose and offer to safety plan with victims of family violence when offenders are released from incarceration.
- The Ministry of Children’s Services should strengthen policy and practice supports related to the role and involvement of First Nations designates to include accountability provisions when designates provide guidance on family and cultural connections.
“Two out of three of our recommendations deal with family violence,” said Del Graff, Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate. “For children to develop and grow, they need to be kept safe, so sharing information among professionals is critical for sound decision-making and safety planning. With the rising rates in family violence, further action is required to improve supports to victims of family violence.”
The third recommendation, on accountability provisions for guidance from First Nation band designates, relates to the importance of cultural connections for young people in care. Six of the nine young people in this report were Indigenous. The overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care continues to be a concern. There must be greater accountability from government to ensure strong cultural connections are maintained between young people and First Nation communities.
Several other themes emerged in these reviews, though they did not result in new recommendations: an increase in opioid-related deaths, and the need to support young people as they transition out of care. The response to the opioid crisis over the past several years has not been sufficient, and we are seeing more young people die from opioids. This is an issue that also touches young people transitioning out of government care, some of whom have been seriously impacted by trauma.
The province’s recent decision to lower age eligibility for young people receiving support and financial assistance agreements has reduced the amount of support available for these vulnerable emerging adults.
Mandatory reporting increases accountability and transparency for government systems, benefiting young people and families involved with child intervention. The reporting also builds public confidence by identifying gaps, barriers and opportunities in systems that serve Albertans.
A copy of the report is available here: ocya.alberta.ca/adult/publications/investigative-review/.
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Legislature of Alberta. We stand up for young people.
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta
C: 780-499-3601; [email protected]